Discover Benelux, Issue 64, April 2019

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Discover Benelux  |  Contents

Contents APRIL 2019




Déborah François Having charmed audiences around the world with her role in the hit French romantic comedy Populaire, Belgian actor Déborah François is one of Europe’s most in-demand names. This year sees the release of her latest project, the Western, Never Grow Old, which she stars in opposite Hollywood’s John Cusack. We met up with the Liège native to find out what else she has in store.


Design Special: Discover Top Flemish Fashion Flanders has always been a dream destination for fashionistas. This month, we discover some of the region’s most stylish brands.




Company profiles, regulars and more We look at the month ahead in Benelux business, as well as profiling the event-planning firms you need to know about.


Gourmet Guide Calling all foodies! We present a mouthwatering guide to the Benelux region’s culinary delights.

Belgium and Luxembourg: Best Museums, Art & Cultural Hotspots This month, we hone in on some of the finest cultural and creative hotspots in Flandwers, Wallonia and Luxembourg.

Tourism Special: There’s No Place Like Flanders From famous cities such as Antwerp to the rural highlights of the Limburg province, Flanders has all the ingredients for an unforgettable escapade.






Fashion Picks  |  10 Desirable Designs Out & About  |  94 Columns

Top Dutch Education: Building a Bright Future Dutch schools, universities, and research centres excel on the worldwide stage, so we decided to take a look at some of the country’s finest educational establishments.

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Discover Benelux  |  Editor’s Note

Dear Reader,

Discover Benelux Issue 64, April 2019 Published 04.2019 ISSN 2054-7218 Published by Scan Group Print Uniprint Executive Editor Thomas Winther Creative Director Mads E. Petersen Editor Anna Villeleger Copy-editor Karl Batterbee

Eline Joling Eva Menger Hannah Krolle Karin Venema Martin Pilkington Matt Antoniak Maya Witters Michiel Stol Paola Westbeek Pauline Zijdenbos Peter Stewart Steve Flinders Stuart Forster Cover Photo © Cynthia Frebour Sales & Key Account Managers Mette Tonnessen Katia Sfihi Micha Cornelisse Petra Foster

Feature Writer Arne Adriaenssens

Publisher: Scan Group 15B Bell Yard Mews Bermondsey Street London SE1 3YT United Kingdom

Contributors Chérine Koubat Colette Davidson

Phone: +44 207 407 1937 Email:

Graphic Designer Audrey Beullier

We are a media you can trust. The print circulation of Discover Benelux is audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), which is the UK body for media measurement.

© All rights reserved. Material contained in this publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior permission of Scan Group – a trading name of Scan Magazine Ltd. This magazine contains advertorials/promotional articles.

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Welcome to the April edition of Discover Benelux, where we are stepping into the new season with a guide to some of the region’s finest cultural and creative hotspots, a Dutch education special, and a look at some of the top places to visit in Flanders. We also profile some of our favourite Flemish fashion brands – in case, like me, you were looking for an excuse to give your wardrobe a little spring clean. This month, I had the pleasure of interviewing Belgian actor Déborah François, who was discovered by the filmmaking duo Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne at the age of just 16. Now 31, she has a long list of credits to her name, ranging from playing Fleur Duval in the drama Le Premier Jour du reste de ta vie (The First Day of the Rest of Your Life) to Rose Pamphyle in the charming French romantic comedy Populaire. François – a Liège native – is currently promoting Never Grow Old, a Western which she stars in alongside Hollywood’s John Cusack. She may be making waves across the Atlantic, but François is still as proud as ever of her Belgian roots, something which became very apparent as we discussed the huge success of her country’s film industry. From the global acclaim achieved by newcomers such as Lukas Dhont to icons of cinema like the Dardenne brothers, the concentration of talent is extraordinary for such a small country. Now that spring is in full swing, do not forget to check out this month’s cultural calendar, which is bursting with ideas to help you make the most of the longer days. Of course, April also brings with it King’s Day, where King Willem-Alexander is celebrated across the Netherlands, not to mention a host of Easter-themed activities for all the family to enjoy. I hope you will find the following pages brimming with ideas and inspiration for a happy and fulfilling month.

Anna Villeleger, Editor

Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Fashion Picks


Easy changes Do you feel like you need to change something in your look, but cannot let go of your everyday favourites? Keep them! The following selection gives you an idea of how to spice up your wardrobe basics with fresh patterns, new colours and exciting shapes. TEXT: HANNAH KROLLE  |  PRESS PHOTOS

Stay in mind Its minimalist, elegant fabrication makes a statement of fashion awareness. This leather jacket shows off your best side. Its only detail is a small zipper on the left breast. Combined with a pair of black boots and a dark jeans, it may be the most perfect way to round off your outfit! Leather jacket: €229, 99 Shoes: €109,99 (reduced €99,95 ) Jeans: €69,99 On second glance This T-shirt might just look like another one of your staples – but it is much more than that. The affordable piece in washed-out red will add pep to your outfit and features seams that create a casual used look. Start the new season by replacing one of your old basics with your first summer purchase! €29,95

Useful and chic These sporty, classic trainers are well worth a look. It is the contrast of white leather and brown rubber that turns this pair of white shoes into real eye-catchers. Another plus: the rubber sole protects the leather from water – which is useful, considering the changeable weather in April. €109,00 6  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Fashion Picks

Casual chic Be pretty – not because of your outfit but because of the way you feel. These pieces make it easier for you to be comfortable, feminine and gorgeous. The fine floral pattern and the supple blouse focus attention on the upper half of your body, the part you communicate with. Complete the look with bright-blue jeans and a pair of high-heels for your cheery new summer mood. Blazer: €119,95 Blouse: €79,95 Top €39,95 Jeans: €109,95

Inspired by nature Have you ever thought of adding a sparkle to your outfit with sunglasses? Izipizi’s new collection makes this possible. Thanks to the classic design, these forest-green, timeless glasses create an elegant and unique look. €35

Straightforward in stripes Why wear trousers in one colour when you can have two? If you love denim, this gorgeous pair of striped jeans makes it easy for you to change your look while keeping your style. The long-lasting material features a high level of workmanship and keeps you fashionable throughout the day. €99,95 8  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Desirable Designs


Eggs and bunnies Peck yourself out of your proverbial egg and arise from hibernation because spring has finally arrived. With that first sun, the urge to redecorate our nests pops up as well. So, add a touch of Easter to your house and make the bunnies feel extra welcome this year. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PRESS PHOTOS



2. Eggheads

1. Nesting place Do you need a spot to disconnect from the world? Just get inside this comfortable egg and float above the surface for a while. You will be ready to spread your wings again in no-time. €300



Nothing is as vital to the Easter breakfast than freshly-boiled eggs. These furry, woollen egg warmers will keep them hot until you are ready to attack. All of them are hand-crocheted by women in an ethical workshop in Nepal, giving them more financial and social independence. €3


3. Easter glow

4. Webcam buddy

5. Miffy at the table

In stark contrast to their sunny days, spring evenings can be all too cold and dark. The hand-woven Wicker Egg Shaped Floor Lamp, however, will brighten up these nights in style. With its dimmer switch, you can even adapt its glow to your own liking. €400

Guarding your privacy online is more important than ever. Luckily, the cute Konijntje Webcam Cover helps you to protect it. Simply mount it on top of your laptop’s camera and prevent anyone who should not be, from peeking at you. €32

No bunny is as loved by the Dutch as their very own Miffy. Her cute face, although just two dots and two lines, is loved by all ages. With this adorable chair at your table, the minimalist rabbit will become a daily dinner guest for your offspring. €149

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Antwerp Academy Show models. Photo:Frederik-Beyens


Top Flemish fashion Thanks to Antwerp’s famous fashion school, not to mention cities such as Ghent and Leuven brimming with trendy boutiques, Flanders is a dream destination for fashionistas. This month we discover some of the region’s most stylish brands. PHOTOS: VISIT FLANDERS

Shopping Antwerp. Photo:

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Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Discover Top Flemish Fashion 2019

Feel beautiful in plus-size fashion from Nr4 TEXT: MAYA WITTERS  |  PHOTOS: NR4

Belgian clothing chain Nr4 is on a special mission: to not only provide plussize ladies with fashionable clothes, but to also make them feel welcome and comfortable in the process. With eight locations and a well-stocked web shop, the company is helping curvy women across Flanders find clothes that fit them – and their style – perfectly. Nr4 offers women’s clothing for all occasions in sizes 44 to 54. “If high-street shops have sizes over 42 – which they rarely do – that clothing isn’t actually adapted to the body shape of plussize women,” explains Nr4 CEO Katie Haemhouts. “We select brands that use high-quality materials and cuts that are specifically suited to larger women, so that they can feel trendy and beautiful.” Nr4 stocks a wide range of fashionable brands, covering everything from formal wear and office attire to accessories and swimsuits. The company likes to champion local design, working with Belgian brands such as Xandres Gold, Amania Mo, Bulté, Diversa, Accent and Alli-

ance. Nr4 also has its own house brand, Très-Elle, focusing on comfort and playful prints. “We designed the Très-Elle range to offer items we couldn’t find anywhere else at an affordable price,” Haemhouts explains. The company does not just want to dress plus-size women, it wants to make them feel comfortable and welcome, too. Clients are received with a smile and a cup of coffee. The shop assistants in Nr4 boutiques are mostly plus-size themselves, with first-hand experience of the pains of shopping in regular clothing stores. They are also well-versed in clothing alterations, so that clients walk out with pieces that fit like a glove. “Shopping as a curvy woman can be an excruciating experience. We don’t just offer clothing tailored to our clients, but an environment in which they can feel valued and recognised, too. Many women walk into our shops after countless disappointments on the high street, but they always walk out with relief, and a beautiful outfit to boot. That’s what we aim for,” concludes Haemhouts.

LEFT: Dresses - Très-Elle, exclusively for Nr4 left €89,95, right €69,95. RIGHT: Looks - Xandres Gold - prices available in shop and on BOTTOM: Looks - Amania Mo - prices available in shop and on

Find Nr4 boutiques in eight cities across Flanders, or online at:

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Statement eyewear made for you TEXT: EVA MENGER  |  PHOTOS: HOET OPTIEK

Good eyewear should be available to everyone. That is why Belgian optician Hoet Optiek guides its customers in picking something that suits their personal needs. Using state of the art 3D printing technology, they design and create glasses that are tailored to their customer’s facial features, giving them both a unique and inclusive feeling. “We’ve been around for so long that people recognise our designs from afar,” director Frederik Ghesquière tells us when explaining that over time, a sort of eyewear community has formed itself around their brand. “Our way of working means that customers go home with a design that is different.” As such, Ghesquière does not believe in a target audience: 14  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

“People from all walks of life come to us for a personalised design.”

Advanced technology 3D glasses might make you think of those things they hand out in cinemas, but that is not quite what we are talking about here. After years of research and development, Hoet Optiek introduced a way to print 3D glasses using titanium powder. Using this technology, it became possible to create designs with the most amazing detail. They launched their first collection in 2015 comprising five models, but now that number has gone up to 12. Timeless, modern and beautiful, each of these 12 models stay true to the Hoet house style. “Quality and comfort are

incredibly important to us,” says Ghesquière, “which is why we’ve ensured that our designs are sustainable – both for the customer and the environment.” All designs are stainless, anti-allergic and light – and offer, thanks to an array of eye and bridge size combinations, the perfect fit for everyone. 3D-printed glasses are made to order and can be personalised

Discover Benelux  |  Best Flemish Eyewear  |  Change Your View

with the name of the customer. On average, the turnaround at Hoet Optiek is about two to four weeks. Hoet Optiek’s 3D-printed designs are produced in Belgium and available in titanium (Hoet Couture) and nylon (Cabrio), with the latter being the cheaper of the two. The main difference between these models is that titanium offers more possibilities for design. “Our Hoet Couture designs are more refined, including, for instance, unique embroideries of gold or platinum wire,” Ghesquière explains. “Our hightech expertise and in-house creativity turn our designs into true treasures.” All Hoet Couture designs are available in light or dark grey coating. Now that Hoet Optiek is also able to create their nylon Cabrio designs through 3D printing, their operations have become significantly more sustainable. “The great thing with offering something tailor-made is that there’s no need for creating stock. We only ever print what we need, which means that we don’t produce any waste – and that, of course, benefits the environment,” Ghesquière explains.

Long history 3D printing might be Hoet Optiek’s biggest selling point right now, but it is their long

history that really makes them special. It was 1884 when the first Hoet travelled across West Flanders to improve people’s sight with well-fitting eyewear, and 1940 when the first Hoet shop opened its doors in Bruges. “We’re the sixth generation of Hoet opticians,” Ghesquière says proudly. And the devotion is palpable: while

he runs the Brussels and Bruges stores together with his wife Lieselotte Hoet, all eyewear is designed by Lieselotte’s father and sister, Patrick and Bieke Hoet. “They each really have their own style, which keeps our collections unique and versatile,” says Ghesquière. “One of our longest running collections is the Theo line, which is available in over 1,400 stores globally.” The iconic collection emerged when Patrick Hoet and his colleague Wim Somers decided they wanted to offer people something other than the mainstream glasses that were selling in the late 1980s. Light, modern and unique, the Theo glasses were groundbreaking then – and still are today. “Throughout all those years, originality and innovation have always been at the heart of our business,” Ghesquière concludes. Interested in getting your own pair of tailored glasses? Visit the Hoet Optiek website, or check out their shop in Bruges or Brussels.


Issue 64  |  April 2019  |  15

Beaux-Arts, Tournai. Photo: Horta WAPICT


Best museums, art & cultural hotspots Calling all culture vultures! The Benelux region is renowned for its world-class museums, and so this month we have decided to hone in on some of the finest cultural and creative hotspots in Flanders, Wallonia and Luxembourg. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER

IBASHO Gallery.

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Discover Benelux  |  Flanders, Wallonia and Luxembourg  |  Best Museums, Art & Cultural Hotspots

Whether you are an art aficionado, a history buff, or simply craving some cultural satisfaction, Belgium and Luxembourg are brimming with museums and galleries.

Step back in time Keen to learn more about how people lived 100 years ago? Then head to the superb A Possen museum, set in a historical village in the Luxembourg Schengen commune. There, you will gain an insight into rural life before the industrial revolution. In Belgium, an absolute must is the renamed Art & History Museum (formerly The Cinquantenaire Museum), located in Brussels’ famous Cinquantenaire Park. The historic building covers 68,000 square metres and boasts artefacts from most civilisations and all continents.

Rare relics In the Wallonian city of Namur you will find the Museum of Ancient Arts of Namur (TreM.a), home to some of the country’s most treasured art collections, from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Show-

Photo: Patrick Jenin,Musée A Possen

casing everything from rare religious relics to oil paintings and beautiful jewels, the museum highlights Wallonia’s heritage as well as influences from further afield. Also in Wallonia, is the wonderful city of Tournai, where any visit should begin with a wander around the magnificent Victor Horta designed Musée des BeauxArts (Museum of Fine Arts).

National and international In Flanders, you will not want to miss the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp (M HKA). This cultural-heritage institution of the Flemish community showcases art, film and visual culture from national and foreign artists. Also well worth a visit in arty Antwerp is the unique IBASHO gallery, where you can explore the finest Japanese photography.

Collection M HKA. Photo: M HKA

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Discover Benelux  |  Flanders, Wallonia and Luxembourg  |  Best Museums, Art & Cultural Hotspots


This is revered Japanese photographer Hitoshi Fugo’s first solo exhibition, featuring work produced from the early 1980s to the early 2000s, during his travels across India, Mexico and the United States. Fugo’s mesmerising work – free from a specific time or location – is an expression of the artist’s inner world.

L’ŒUVRE AU MIROIR DES MOTS. VAN CUTSEM – HORTA – RODENBACH Musée des Beaux-Arts, Tournai Extended until 22 April

The Art & History Museum. Photo: MRAH

In this unique museum space designed by Victor Horta, the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Tournai looks at 19th-century paintings under the watchful eye of one of the greatest Belgian writers of the time, the Symbolist poet and novelist Georges Rodenbach. Monet, Gallait, Rodin, and many others are revisited.

Am-Big-You-Us Legiscon M HKA, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp Until 19 May

This marks French artist Laure Prouvost’s first exhibition in Belgium and her largest to date. Showcasing work ranging from her formative ‘monologue’ video works, through to recent major installations, this thought-provoking exhibition offers a wide-angle panorama of the artist’s career.

Photo: M HKA

Crossroads. Travelling through Middle Ages Art & History Museum, Brussels 26 September 2019 - 29 March 2020

Worth planning well in advance for, this travelling exhibition is not to be missed and will arrive at the Art & History Museum Brussels this September after Amsterdam, Bonn and Athens. Crossroads. Travelling through Middle Ages will showcase a range of unique and exceptional objects, presenting different materials and techniques from all over Europe. 18  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

Laure Prouvost, This glass contains water from a place no ones ever been. Photo: M HKA, Lisson Gallery London

Hitoshi Fugo – BLACKOUT 25, 1980, © Hitoshi Fugo, courtesy IBASHO

Locally rooted & internationally connected TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK  |  PHOTOS: M HKA

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp (M HKA) is a cultural-heritage institution of the Flemish community that showcases art, film and visual culture from national and foreign artists. Boasting a rich and varied collection of more than 5,000 artworks, it aims to continue the city’s avantgarde tradition while still looking to the rest of the world.

Brief history Though as far back as 1947 Antwerp’s mayor Lode Craeybeckx was toying with the idea of establishing a building that would serve as a centre for concerts, cultural events and especially modern art, the history of Antwerp’s Museum of Contemporary Art (M HKA) can be 20  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

traced back to 1970 with the foundation of the International Cultural Center (ICC) and the work of American artist Gordon Matta-Clark. Situated in the former Royal Palace on the Meir, Antwerp’s main shopping street, the ICC set the stage as Flanders’ first public institution for contemporary art. Its main objective, according to original director Ludo Bekkers, was to serve as a space where exhibitions, concerts, workshops and all kinds of other cultural events could be hosted. From 1972 to into a vibrant Flor Bex. An took place in

1981, the ICC flourished hub under the wings of important development 1977 when Bex invited

architect-turned-artist Gordon MattaClark to execute one of his ‘cuts’ on an abandoned office building near the River Scheldt. Titled Office Baroque, the work commemorated the 400th anniversary of the city’s Baroque artist, Peter Paul Rubens. After Matta-Clark’s untimely death in 1978, Bex intended to preserve the artwork as an integral part of

Discover Benelux  |  Flanders  |  Best Museums, Art & Cultural Hotspots

the future museum for contemporary art, which would be the city’s first and was to be built on the surrounding plots. “Unfortunately, the building was demolished, but the spirit of Matta-Clark and his artwork was very important for the museum’s foundation,” explains Bart De Baere, general and artistic director. The Foundation Gordon Matta-Clark helped fund the museum with works donated by national and international artists. Officially established in 1985 and inaugurated in 1987, the M HKA opened with 150 works from the foundation. Its first exhibition was dedicated to the work of Matta-Clark.

The collection & exhibitions Though it was mainly an art gallery in its early years, after the appointment of Bart De Baere as director in 2002, not only did the M HKA evolve into a museum that focused on research and collection development, but it also adopted a broader international perspective. “We have a huge collection of artworks from areas such as Russia, Asia and North Africa and aim to continue developing by look-

ing for unknown and emerging artists,” says De Baere. The permanent collection, which includes iconic masterpieces by artists such as Jan Fabre, Luc Tuymans, Cindy Sherman and Marlene Dumas, is free to visit on the ground floor. Noteworthy is Keith Haring’s mural dating to 1987, housed at the M HKAFE and one of his few public European projects. Must-see exhibitions currently on view include Am-Big-You-Us Legiscon, French artist Laure Prouvost’s first exhibition in Belgium and the largest to date, which can be seen until 19 May, and Lars von Trier’s Melancholia: The Diamond, his first work in more than 20 years, shown until 5 May. Scheduled to take place from 4 October 2019 through 19 January 2020, the museum will host a retrospective of Belgian poet and painter Marcel Broodthaers.

Plenty to offer Attractively located in Antwerp’s Zuid (South) neighbourhood, the M HKA is sur-

rounded by other museums, as well as art galleries, coffee bars, vintage shops and exclusive stores. De Baere: “It’s a very vibrant, hip and young neighbourhood. It is really the city’s cultural hotspot.” The museum organises a wide variety of events for visitors of all ages. Adults, for example, can participate in bimonthly yoga lessons held amidst the artworks on Thursdays or join in on free guided tours (also on Thursdays) which actually invite them to enter into a dialogue instead of merely being told what they are looking at. Children can visit the Salon on the first floor where they can partake in everything from fun games to drawing assignments. It is also worth mentioning that the M HKA’s venue can be rented for private events ranging from press conferences to celebrations. In short, there is plenty to experience and expand one’s horizons at this exciting museum. Enough reasons for a visit the next time you are in Antwerp! Web:

Laure Prouvost, This glass contains water from a place no ones ever been. Photo: M HKA, Lisson Gallery London

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Discover Benelux  |  Flanders  |  Best Museums, Art & Cultural Hotspots

Yoshinori Mizutani – Tokyo Parrots 048, 2013, ©Yoshinori Mizutani, courtesy IBASHO

Albarran Cabrera – The Mouth of Krishna 760, © Albarran Cabrera, courtesy IBASHO

Hitoshi Fugo – BLACKOUT 25, 1980, © Hitoshi Fugo, courtesy IBASHO

Land of the rising stars TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

Japan is not as far away as you might think. In the middle of Antwerp’s museum district, you can visit the land of the rising sun at the homely IBASHO gallery. With Japanese photography as their field of expertise, they let you explore the mystical culture of the Far East through the locals’ lenses. ‘A place where you feel at home’. That is as close as you can get to translating the poetic, Japanese term ‘ibasho’. In the eponymous gallery for Japanese photo art in Antwerp, this warm and fuzzy feeling overwhelms you upon entering. “We have installed our gallery on the ground floor of our house,” says co-founder Martijn van Pieterson. “It therefore always feels like we are inviting people into our home.” Five years ago, he and his wife, Annemarie Zethof, left their stressful lives in London to set up a cultural oasis on the other side of the channel. “We have always been avid art enthusiasts and collectors. Throughout the years, we got more interested in photography and Japanese art. When opening our own gallery, we decided to look towards 22  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

the east and become a gateway for Japanese photography in the west.” Although Japanese photo art might sound like a small niche, it actually beholds a sizeable and versatile world. Since most of today’s camera brands are Japanese, it is not a surprise that the medium is wildly popular in the country. “Nonetheless, the local market for art on the wall is small,” says Zethof, “limiting most artists to selling their work in book form instead.” Although the focus of IBASHO is the trade of Japanese photo prints, the gallery also features a bookstore in which you can peruse the work of many a photographer. “As experts in our specific field, we sell our prints far beyond the Belgian borders. Besides trading at our gallery and website, we also attend plenty of fairs in both Europe and the United States.” Until 19 May, IBASHO colours black and white with the BLACKOUT exhibition of Hitoshi Fugo. This Japanese artist travelled the five continents with his camera, resulting in pictures with both Asian and

western influences. “Although his mysterious, abstract style feels very Japanese, it is never clear where the pictures are taken,” Van Pieterson explains. “The exhibition showcases work from different decades and countries, yet it feels like a whole. That keeps intriguing me.”


View from Beffroi. Photo: Jan D’hondt


Belgium’s best-kept secret TEXT: PETER STEWART  |  PHOTOS: VISIT TOURNAI

With its rich history, UNESCO-listed architecture, world-class museums and lively food and drink scene, Tournai has plenty to impress visitors. Straddling the river Scheldt in southwest Belgium, Tournai is a charming city that offers a lot more than you might expect to see for a place of its size. “It’s one of the nicest places in Belgium with a history stretching back 2,000 years,” says Jean-François Dumoulin, who works for Tournai’s tourist office. 24  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

UNESCO-listed cathedral If world-class architecture is your thing, then do not miss Tournai’s star attraction, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame. This impressive structure is the only UNESCO-listed cathedral in Belgium and dominates the city’s skyline with its five impressive bell towers, which have been extensively renovated in the last couple of years. The interior is just as striking, itself a fine mix of Gothic and Romanesque architectural styles, complemented by an impressive rose window.

Beffroi. Photo: visittournai, Jan D’hondt

Discover Benelux  |  Wallonia  |  Best Museums, Art & Cultural Hotspots

Just a short stroll away lies another of the city’s attractions – its belfry. The oldest in Belgium, this belfry is 72 metres high and, with its 257 steps, rewards visitors with picture-postcard views over the surrounding streets and countryside. “On a clear day you can even see France,” adds Jean-François.

Musée des Beaux-Arts Art aficionados will love Tournai. The city is home to the impressive Musée des Beaux-Arts, which was created by Art Nouveau design genius Victor Horta. Inside, visitors will find a wealth of art, including two major works by Manet, as well as pieces by Rubens, Monet, Van Gogh, Gallait and Tournai-born Rogier van der Weyden. And if that was not enough, Tournai has plenty to offer visitors in the way of food and drink, too. Whether you are looking for rustic Belgian fare or French inspired cuisine, Tournai has a great selection of dining establishments to cater for your every whim. However, a visit to Tournai is not complete without tasting one of the local craft beers, available in the many cafés lining the beautiful Grand Place and the bars scattered throughout the quaint centre.

Beaux-Arts. Photo: Horta WAPICT

Tempted? Tournai offers all of the above, not to mention an action-packed calendar of events, with highlights including a colourful carnival, an annual flower market and festivals dedicated to everything from folklore and jazz to accordion music and even beer. Make Tournai your next place to visit in Belgium – you will not be disappointed. Web:

Grand Place. Photo: visittournai, WAPICT

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Discover Benelux  |  Wallonia  |  Best Museums, Art & Cultural Hotspots

Easter Island statue.

Mummy mask.


A new lease of life for art and history TEXT: CHÉRINE KOUBAT  |  PHOTOS: MRAH

With diverse collections spanning millennia, the renamed Art & History Museum – formerly The Cinquantenaire Museum – is the largest museum in the country. Located in Brussels’ famous Cinquantenaire Park, the historic building covers 68,000 square metres, the equivalent of seven football pitches. “The Louvre has its Mona Lisa and we have our Easter Island statue, gifted – not stolen! – by the Chilean government in 1935,” beams director Alexandra De Poorter. The present was a token of gratitude after a doctor aboard the 19thcentury Franco-Belgian expedition stayed on the island to help local people with leprosy. Other highlights include the Broken Ear, a Peruvian statuette made famous by Hergé in the eponymous Tintin comic, and a rare, coloured architectural model of Ancient Rome, at a scale of 1:400 (or 70 square metres in total). From prehistoric archaeology all the way to European applied arts, it is impossible to summarise the wealth of offering at hand. “We house artefacts from most civilisations and all continents,” says De Poorter, “so people assume we have all the money we need. In reality, securing funds for storage and conservation is a real strug26  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

gle.” Indeed, only seven per cent of the museum’s collection is exhibited and, in the 1980s, the museum lost a third of its overall surface area to vintage car museum Autoworld. These hurdles have spurred the institution on to draw on its impressive stored collections, such as its acclaimed Japanese prints and vast set of altarpieces (the world’s largest), for temporary exhibits.

Finally, the plaster-cast workshop holds a monumental 4,500 reproductions. “Imagine a 3D library, with moulds of pieces that no longer exist,” says De Poorter. Using only traditional techniques, the workshop offers a vast catalogue for sale, with some pieces weighing hundreds of kilogrammes. An amazing way to own a little piece of art… and history.

Beyond the name change, the museum is turning over a new leaf with ambitious projects, such as the reconstruction of iconic jewellery store Wolfers Frères, designed by famed Art Nouveau architect Victor Horta in 1912. The original entrance doors frame a similar-sized room, replete with red mahogany counters, green velvet furnishings and bronze highlights, as well as original jewellery pieces, for a journey through time. The restoration of a Copt mummy wrapped in ornate fabrics is also underway and will be the centrepiece of upcoming exhibition Crossroads.



Discover Benelux  |  Wallonia  |  Best Museums, Art & Cultural Hotspots

A treasure trove of ancient arts TEXT: COLETTE DAVIDSON  |  PHOTO: IRPA/KIK

Nestled inside the Hôtel de Gaiffier d’Hestroy, in the Belgian city of Namur, is the Museum of Ancient Arts of Namur (TreM.a), home to some of the country’s most treasured art collections, from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. From rare religious relics to oil paintings and jewels, the museum is a showcase of Wallonia’s heritage as well as influences further afield. TreM.a first opened its doors in April 1964, after the elegant, French-style residence was donated to the Province of Namur in 1950. The museum boasts a rich permanent collection, including the Treasures of Oignies – a grouping of over 50 pieces from the 13th century. The primarily religious treasures range from silver and brass ornaments to altarpieces, and have been classified as one of the Seven Wonders of Belgium.

The museum also boasts several unique masterpieces. The Walcourt Panels – lateral panels of an altarpiece – represent the Bible’s Annunciation and Visitation in typical gothic style. Stucco work at the front and rear facades of the avant-corps has been made part of Wallonia’s exceptional heritage of 2003. And a relic containing galactite powder is thought to have its origins in a cave once used by the holy family. The concentration and importance of the works at TreM.a are without equal in Belgium, thanks to influences near and far. “The museum is proof of the Namur region’s unique art history,” says Anna Trobec, a curator at TreM.a. “It shows not only the savoir-faire of artists in the region but also the stylistic influences and trade links with nearby regions, like Limoges or L’Orient.” Web:

Reliquaire de la côte de saint Pierre, coll. FRB, inv. TO5.

Discover Benelux  |  Luxembourg  |  Best Museums, Art & Cultural Hotspots


Have you ever wondered how people lived 100 years ago? The wonderful A Possen museum, set in a historical village in the Luxembourg Schengen commune, three kilometres from Remich, gives a fascinating insight into rural life before the industrial revolution. According to manager Nathalie Biever-Leruth, “it is a village within the village of Bech-Kleinmacher, with 20,000 objects spread over 1,200 square metres in five interconnected buildings”. The folklore museum includes the reconstructed home of a wine-growing family from 1900, complete with bedroom, lounge and kitchen, in a renovated 17th-century building. It also boasts fully equipped winemaking, weaving, coopering and shoe making workshops. After learning about a typical day in the life of the family, visitors can admire the muse-

um’s impressive toy collection, including ancient dolls, teddy bears, model trains, wooden games and tin toys. “I can’t pick a favourite,” says tour guide and workshop host Nadine Humbert-Pizzaferri, “we have too many gorgeous pieces.” A popular stop on the Moselle wine route, the folklore museum attracts around 5,000 visitors every year, from families and senior clubs to wine enthusiasts and schools. Many activities are specifically tailored to children, with a monthly workshop dedicated to sewing, arts and crafts and popular holidays.

Toys. Photo: Gery Oth

Adults are far from neglected, with a series of lectures and thematic tours involving bespoke activities, such as wine tasting and a cellar visit, a hike in the local vineyard or an architecture-led walk through the picturesque village. Another highlight is the recently reopened museum restaurant Wäistuff A Possen, an ideal spot to sample regional cuisine and delicious local wines.



Building a bright future When it comes to education, the Netherlands is an example for the rest of the world. According to Pearson’s prestigious ranking, its higher education is the eighth best in the world and third in Europe. Join us on a journey through the country’s modern and balanced talent incubators. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: PEXELS

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Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future

If anything, Dutch education is formulated for the student as an individual. From the age of 14, youngsters have plenty of opportunities to design their own individual learning trail. In brief, Dutch secondary school can be divided into different categories: for example there is vocational training (vmbo), technical education (havo) and general education (vwo). According to the level you choose, you are prepared for a different form of higher education. Within the system, pupils have opportunities galore to explore their passions and im-

merse themselves during their electives. These can vary from science or languages to arts or philosophy. After graduating from secondary school, most students choose the level of higher education that fits their high-school career. Vwo-students usually end up at a university (wo), havo-students opt for higher college education (hbo) and vmbo-students choose a mediate college programme (mbo). That last one is, once again, divided into various degrees of diffi-

culty. A degree in the highest level of them all also provides you with an entrance ticket to commence hbo-studies afterwards. This way, no door ever really closes on you within the Dutch education system. Those who want to, can always work themselves up to a higher level if they are motivated enough. In this month’s special guide, we present our top pick of the region’s finest educational establishments: for everyone from the youngest learners to the perpetual student.

THE NETHERLANDS’ TOP SECTORS: Although Dutch talent can be found in all fields, they play a global pioneering role in nine sectors in particular. In these industries, they are world champions Agriculture and food While combining productivity, quality and safety, the Netherlands is leading the rest of the world towards a sustainable food industry.

High-tech systems and materials High-tech is more than gadgets and luxury items. Dutch innovators create state-ofthe-art solutions for a range of social challenges. Life sciences and health In the Netherlands, top-notch healthcare is available to everyone. Yet, even more than curing illnesses, they aim to prevent them and increase quality of life.

Chemistry Today’s chemistry industry in the Netherlands focuses on relevant subjects like climate, circularity, food, mobility and health. It has, therefore, a significant global impact.

Logistics As a well-connected country in the heart of Europe, the Netherlands proves its talent for logistics on a daily basis; on land, at sea and in the air.

Creative industry As a country of innovators, the Dutch combine their limitless fantasy and urge to create with a fascination for new methods and upcoming platforms.

Horticulture The cultivation of both flowers and vegetables is blooming in the Netherlands. Its long history in growing crops makes their produce popular at home as well as abroad.

Energy With its long history of building windmills, the Netherlands is well on its way to becoming climate neutral. Their expertise, they happily share with the rest of the world.

Water and marine As a water-drenched country, the Dutch are experts in protecting themselves against it and using it to their own advantage. The power of water is never underestimated in the low countries.

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Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future

Linnaeusborg. Photo: Marcel Spanjer

A global university city in pocket size TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

While pinpointing the place you want to study, mainly metropoles and capitals come to mind. Nonetheless, the most pleasant university town in the low countries is widely regarded to be the Dutch city of Groningen. Both inside and outside the faculties of the University of Groningen, a warm, welcoming and international environment awaits you. In the far north of the Netherlands, mere kilometres away from the North Sea and the stunning Frisian Islands lies the charming town of Groningen. Although it is the biggest city in the top of the country, it has a very intimate and collegiate character. With an average age of just 36 years, the population of Groningen is the youngest 32  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

of all the Dutch cities, and there is one very clear reason behind that: the University of Groningen. “In most university cities, the students live in a city of adults,” says Charlotte M’doe, marketing director at the university. “In Groningen, however, it is the other way around. There are so many students here that the social life in this town centres around the many enthusiastic youngsters and the multitude of associations. Since many of our alumni stick around in Groningen after graduating and found start-ups here, the town becomes more dynamic and innovative by the day.”

the University of Groningen has a very non-hierarchical and open structure. “The relationship between our students and their professors is friendly,” says Jorien Bakker, the university’s spokesperson. “Most of them are on first-name terms and there is an atmosphere of trust. Even Ben Feringa, one of our professors who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 2016, is just ‘Ben’ to all colleagues and students here. Our rec-

Cross-fertilisation This jovial and warm spirit lives on inside the university walls as well. Compared to other major universities in the Netherlands,

Academy Building.

Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future

tor is also very approachable and likes to be available for all members of the university community.” An open culture like this also stimulates cross-fertilisation between different departments and faculties. “As a research-driven university, we don’t believe in isolating specialties,” explains M’doe. “A versatile institution like ours contains a wealth of knowledge in a myriad of fields. When our students conduct research, they are therefore strongly encouraged to look behind the borders of their proper expertise and collaborate with students from other programmes.” This collaborative approach has earned the school a splendid international reputation. The University of Groningen is listed in double digits in just about every global university ranking there is. Among others, it was awarded 66th place on the prestigious ‘Academic Ranking of World Universities’ and came in 79th place on ‘THE World University Rankings’.

International classroom A unique university like this, obviously attracts a fair share of international visitors. Close to a quarter of the students who come to Groningen for a semester,

Energy Academy. Photo: Ronald Zijlstra

Photo: Peter van der Sijde

a year, or even an entire programme, are from outside the Netherlands. “Having international guests on campus is enriching for both our Dutch and foreign students. Therefore, they have the opportunity to share accommodation and participate in free Dutch language courses, which are incredibly popular since many international students want to mingle with the locals too. Meanwhile, all our Dutch students speak English very well: the Netherlands is one of the non-English speaking countries with the best level of English.” That ear for languages comes in handy while studying at the University of Groningen since the lion’s share of classes are taught in English. No less than 35 Bachelor’s programmes and over 90 Master’s are entirely executed in the British tongue. Since most Dutch students graduate secondary school with an impressive C1-level in English, the adjustment to studying in it afterwards is usually minimal. “The advantages, on the other hand, are numerous,” says Bakker. “Adapting to increasing globalisation, we want to provide our students with a frame of reference that is bigger than just

the Netherlands, or even Europe. Because how do they handle financing issues in India? Or how do they use mass media in Russia? To provide them with that kind of knowledge as well, we introduced ‘the international classroom’. Our students read and learn about their trade in a worldwide context and are taught by professors and lecturers from all around the world. By wearing a global hat as well as a Dutch one, we prepare our students for careers in an international environment or in all corners of the world.” University of Groningen in numbers With its 405-year history, the University of Groningen is the Netherlands’ second-oldest university. Spread over 11 faculties, 30,000 students follow one of the university’s 48 Bachelor’s programmes and over 100 Master’s programmes. 7,000 of them (or 22 per cent of the school) are international, combining 120 different nationalities under one university roof.


Photo: Sylvia Germes

Ben Feringa. Photo: Jeroen van Kooten

Lab Oscar Kuipers. Photo: Bram Belloni

Photo: Sylvia Germes

Linnaeusborg. Photo: Peter Tah

Smitsborg CIT. Photo: Michel de Groot

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Conversations on science, society and the future of gene editing TEXT: KARIN VENEMA  |  PHOTOS: WAGENINGEN UNIVERSITY AND RESEARCH

After previous editions in Canada and America, Wageningen University and Research is proud to host the 2019 CRISPRcon event in the Netherlands. In this unique forum, a broad selection of voices come together to discuss the future of CRISPR and related geneediting technologies across applications in agriculture, health, conservation and more. CRISPR stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, and CRISPR-Cas is a new technology that can be used to edit genes within organisms relatively simply, very accurately, and efficiently. It makes it possible to translate 34  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

information obtained from DNA sequences quickly into plants with modified traits, and thus to increase the genetic variation available for plant breeding. The revolutionary CRISPR-Cas technique is currently attracting broad interest because of its potential contribution to improving the sustainability of food production, reducing environmental impacts, and improving human health. These applications also raise important questions about risks, benefits, ethics, equity and more.

Plant breeding Europe’s highest court ruled in June 2018 that plant breeding using CRISPR-Cas constitutes genetic modification and

should be regulated as such. This is not the case for conventionally mutated crops, made with techniques such as radiation and chemical treatments which cause many, random mutations but have already been in use since the 1930s, so there is a lot of knowledge about their safety.

Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future

CRISPR-Cas is much more precise, but does not have that kind of track record yet, and therefore comes under the strict GMO regulation. The court’s decision was met with disbelief by biotechnology experts and plant breeders alike, especially because many other countries including the US, Canada and Japan have decided not to regulate as long as the introduced mutations are indistinguishable from natural mutations or classical mutagenesis.

How it works “In lectures, I often clarify the technology with the tomato,” says Ernst van den Ende, managing director of the Plant Sciences Group of Wageningen University and Research. “The tomato has a genome of almost a billion DNA letters. When you compare a current commercial tomato with its wild ancestor, on average you see a difference of twenty million DNA letters. That difference came about through breeding and using radiation or chemical treatments, without regulation. With CRISPR-Cas just one or a few letters get changed in the DNA, but because it’s done in a laboratory, the European court considers it genetically modified.” The court ruling is a spanner in the works for many scientist and plant breeding companies that would like to start using the fairly cheap and simple technology. “It’s such a shame, as the technology has so much to offer,” continues van den Ende.

Huge benefits “Look at the work of Aurélie Jouanin: she recently obtained her doctorate in Wageningen and showed that you can use CRISPR-Cas to breed wheat with modified gluten so that people suffering from coeliac disease can eat it. There are other interesting applications, such as improving a crop’s resistance to disease. The Dutch government aims to reduce the use of crop protection products to zero by 2030. But how are we going to do that? There is an urgent need to come up with better, more resistant varieties soon. CRISPRCas could play a major role in this, but to enable this, the GMO directive needs to be amended.”

Speakers from across the world Wageningen University and Research organises the CRISPRcon 2019 event together with Keystone Policy Centre. There will be many interesting speakers from all over the world discussing the promises and perils of gene editing. The programme advances broad dialogue across gene editing applications on whether and how these technologies should make the transition from the lab into society at large. “It’s important to have a social debate about the current situation in Europe,” says van den Ende. “We need to talk about where we want to go as a community and how we can start the dialogue on the possibilities and risks of this new breeding technique. In CRISPRcon we offer a stage to many different groups:

Ernst van den Ende.

research, education, NGOs, industry, consumers, politics, religious parties, and so on. We think this can help enormously in the current debate, which is very polarised. We hope to form bridges between proponents and opponents of this technique, all are welcome!” CRISPRcon 2019 takes place on 20-21 June in Wageningen


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Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future


The hospitality business is one of continuous evolution and improvement. Therefore, any hospitality institute with legitimacy should stay ahead of tomorrow’s trends in order to groom the next generation of visionary hospitality leaders. As a top ranked Hospitality Business School, Hotelschool The Hague is the ultimate place to learn the latest tricks of the trade. “Hotelschool The Hague is unique in its philosophy,” says Anna De VisserAmundson, senior marketing and research fellow at the school. “Overall, you can distinguish two types of hospitality institutes. First, you have the very practical programmes, where the focus lays 36  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

on perfecting the skills and techniques you need in the kitchen or at a hotel’s front desk. Other institutes look at hospitality purely from a business angle and focus solely on numbers and business plans. However, we have created a wellbalanced programme that combines a sizeable theoretical foundation, with lots of hands-on experience and industry insights in the form of research. Our graduates can think strategically and act operationally. They know how to talk with the vice-president of a company as well as with the busboy.” Because of its all-round vision, Hotelschool The Hague may count itself among the best schools of its kind in the world. As recently as this year, the prestigious QS World University Ranking

granted it the sixth position in the category ‘best hospitality and leisure management university’.

Disarming enthusiasm To maintain these high standards, all those aspiring to study at Hotelschool The Hague must undergo a series of selection tests. In the end, only one out of three applicants gets in. “We test them on a wide range of criteria like teamwork, communication, mathematics, their level of English and their passion for the hospitality profession. This process only boosts our students’ motivation, filling the school with a disarming atmosphere of enthusiasm.” Throughout the studies itself, the standards are kept high as well. Howev-

Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future

er, that does not mean the school environment is distant. Since the classes are small, the lectures remain interactive and the student-lecturer relations jovial. This approach attracts many international hospitality prodigies too. Especially since the working language within the school’s walls is English and the tuition fees are reasonable. “The hospitality sector is globalising at a dazzling pace and, as a Hospitality Business School, we have to prepare our students for that reality. By mixing several cultures under one roof, they all get more insights on hospitality in a global context. By speaking English only, they are also prepared to work in such an international environment.”

Two hotels and six restaurants on campus As a student at Hotelschool The Hague, you do not just sit back and relax in an auditorium for the majority of the time. From the first year onwards, you become immersed in the tumultuous reality of the hospitality business. “Inside our two campuses in The Hague and Amsterdam, we have a total of two hotels and six restaurants. First and foremost, these are learning environments for our students to explore and make mistakes. This way, they will perform better once they go on an internship in the field.” Already during the first year of the Bachelor programme, small groups of students will run

one of these outlets for a total of ten weeks. While being supervised by Michelin-starred chefs or big names from the hospitality industry, they cook for paying customers and welcome real tourists. “Of course, not everything always goes as smoothly as in a professional restaurant. Yet, our customers are usually very surprised by the high level of professionalism students have already acquired.” It might not come as a surprise that alumni from Hotelschool The Hague are very desired within the international hospitality industry. Given that the school has been around for 90 years, their former students and superb reputation are far spread. This makes a degree from the institute a powerful tool in the search for an exciting job. “However, these last five years we have noticed that more and more of our alumni have been opening a business for themselves after graduation. For that reason, we are currently developing a module on entrepreneurship within our curriculum as well. In this module, our students will have to come up with a hospitality concept themselves, write a business plan, and pitch it in front of a jury.”

Rescued food Since the beginning of 2017, the school has also been pioneering in the field of sustainability. “Because of our close ties with the industry, we saw how big the

problem of food waste actually was. Onethird of all food we produce ends up in bins and the hospitality sector is responsible for most of it. As a school, we felt like we could make a difference here. Therefore, we started cooking with as much ‘rescued food’ as possible: perfectly edible products that would, otherwise, be thrown away for not matching our high standards and expectations. Today, we have already saved more than 40,000 kilogrammes of food from the trash bin.” Anna is a driving force behind the ‘Food Circularity’ programme that has been implemented in the curriculum of the Hotelschool The Hague. These initiatives combine practical education with research and theory. Research projects related to the marketing of rescued-based food show that cooking with saved products can save quite a penny, while the label ‘ecological’ can boost the popularity of your business for example. On the other hand, nudging campaigns to reduce food waste and the use of disposables were organised to reduce waste within the school. “We are convinced that, with this project, we can create a new generation of hospitality talent who combine sustainability with skill and virtuosity.”


Anna De Visser-Amundson.

Issue 64  |  April 2019  |  37

Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future

Ron van Oijen.



If one were to describe the classic profile of an actuary, it is likely to include the words mathematical, strategy and risk. As a profession that few people know about, a general misconception is that it is restricted to the insurance, finance or pension industries. Ron van Oijen, chairman of the Royal Dutch Actuarial Association (Koninklijk Actuarieel Genootschap) wants the world to know that there is more to it: “Being an actuary is a guaranteed ticket to a promising international career.” Van Oijen: “Few know what an actuary is. It certainly wasn’t something that I had heard of until someone else recommended it to me. I then started looking into it 38  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

and soon learned that it was considered to be among the top three best jobs in the Netherlands. Knowing that it would bring me a high level of job security and fantastic international opportunities, I didn’t have to think about it for very long. And the prospect of daily strategic puzzling wasn’t bad, either.”

to work on a university project with a professor – and when I started to run out of money, my academic expertise allowed me to find a part-time job before I had even started looking. And that’s exactly what’s so amazing about this profession: the title alone is enough to take you anywhere.”

Van Oijen completed his degree at the University of Amsterdam, which, back in the day, was the only university in the Netherlands that offered a complete degree in actuarial science. “One of my biggest dreams had always been to move abroad, which is why I arranged a study exchange in San Francisco for my final year. On arriving, I was immediately asked

So what does an actuary do? Essentially, they are professionals that provide financial institutions, businesses and government bodies with the information needed to make well-considered decisions. They think out scenarios to identify, quantify and explain the risks involved and subsequently come up with solutions. Traditionally, they are employed within the insurance

The job

Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future

and pension industries, but the emergence of data has made it that now pretty much any industry can benefit from bringing actuaries on board. Before an organisation decides to implement change or introduce new business models, actuaries will use data to assess possible repercussions. Ultimately, this allows them to come up with solutions or even new products. “Actuaries are increasingly collaborating with marketers,” says van Oijen. The work is comparable to that of risk analysts, though the main difference is that actuaries are specialised in cases that have an impact on someone’s life. “A classic example is workplace pensions,” van Oijen states. “Taking into account age, job title, salary and professional risks, it’s our job to decide how much employers should be contributing to their employee pensions. Or take car insurance; in order to come up with the right level of cover, we have to carefully calculate the probability of risks. A young person with a sports car, for example, is typically advised to pay more than an older person with a station wagon.”

But it does not stop there: “All industries have to deal with risks,” van Oijen explains. “Especially now that there’s so much data available, actuaries can find themselves working in any field from architecture to shipping. They might even be asked to calculate the cost of covering Dutch international Frenkie de Jong’s legs.” It is this strong ability to solve problems and balance interests which van Oijen thinks makes actuaries so employable: “Studying actuarial science helps you develop skills that are transferable.”

The Royal Dutch Actuarial Association Formed in 1888, The Royal Dutch Actuarial Association aims to position the profession against relevant social issues. The association keeps track of developments and trends in the pension, insurance and healthcare industries as well as data science and risk management. When these developments started to significantly change the actuarial profession, the association established the Actuarial Institute in 1994. Here, practising actuaries get all the retraining they need to stay

on top of industry trends – a requirement if they want to keep their title actuary AG (which, to the business, radiates guaranteed quality). In addition, the institute offers the Executive Master of Actuarial Science (EMAS). Coming from a small, private, educational institution, EMAS is designed around state-of-the-art models and methods for risk management and measurement. Taught by academic and practical lecturers from leading universities and companies, courses are interactive and always reflect topics that are relevant to the industry at that moment in time. What is more, graduate students qualify for the actuary AG title. Are you a strategic thinker, analytical and naturally good at maths? Is building a versatile and international career something you have always dreamed of? Then becoming an actuary might just be for you. Visit the association’s website to find out more. Web:

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Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future

Efficient learning made to measure TEXT: EVA MENGER  |  PHOTOS: DIRKSEN

With over 50 years of history under their belt, Dirksen education has built a reputation for offering outstanding electronics and telecommunications courses. But that is not all they do: with the emergence of computers in the 1990s and subsequent developments in digitisation and the Internet of Things (IoT), their portfolio now covers everything related to technical IT. “Our approach is quite a personal one,” explains marketing and communications coordinator Charlotte Thus. “Classes are small, which means that there is much more opportunity for interaction between students and teachers.” Training advisor, Thijs Groenen, agrees: “Small classes 40  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

make it easier for teachers to stay on top of individual student development. And there is more time and space for students to have their voices heard and ask questions.” The school is noticing a growing demand for electronics courses. Where IT used to be limited to technical systems such as climate control or ATM systems, the emergence of IoT has made these technical systems much more complex. As a result, working on these systems now requires a whole different skill set, which is why more and more organisations reach out to Dirksen for IT learning programmes that are customised to the specific needs of their employees.

All levels welcome “We aim to offer education that is suitable for everyone,” Groenen tells us. “Whether it’s groups or individuals, beginners or professionals – all of our courses and training sessions are developed internally and, following didactic teaching meth-

Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future

ods, include a nice balance of theory and practical examples. Most of our teachers work or have worked in IT themselves, and their first-hand experiences really benefit our students.” Dirksen also promotes blended learning. Combining virtual learning with traditional face-to-face sessions maximises opportunities for customised education, and helps students to actively apply their knowledge in real life. Groenen: “Ultimately, it’s our mission to equip our students with a strong foundation. No tricks or quick tips, but a real familiarity with their industry to help them on their way.” For a new collaboration with KLM, Dirksen has developed an eight-week course during which they train maintenance staff of the Dutch airline in analogue and digital electronics. The course helps students quickly develop extensive knowledge of the subject. “We’ve only just started our second wave of courses,” says Groenen, “but first-round students have all given incredibly positive

feedback. One even said that these eight weeks taught them more than their fouryear full-time MBO (secondary vocational) degree!” A similar collaboration has been kicked off with the Royal Netherlands Air Force (De Koninklijke Luchtmacht) earlier this year. As part of a learning trajectory carefully mapped out by the air force, Dirksen provides a technical training programme. During the course of 20 weeks, ten future Air Operations Control Station or Patriot Missile System employees are trained in Dirksen’s Tilburg based training centre.

Adding value Whether it is a one-day training course or a complete bachelor’s degree – high demands on teaching materials, teachers and curriculum developers make Dirksen education of consistently high quality. Students can choose from over 250 courses, knowing that their graduation certificate will be valued by companies throughout the country. “That is not to say that we’re limited to the Netherlands,” Thus empha-

sises. “We also work with a large number of international organisations, from India to Curaçao. Companies from all over the world can reach out to us for customised IT learning programmes.” “When creating a customised lesson plan, the most important thing for us is that we really bring value to an organisation,” Groenen explains. “Our work is designed to meet the schedules and goals of our clients, but it should also make a difference to how employees feel about doing their work.” That is why Dirksen focuses on supporting the student’s personal development. “We guide our students from the moment they start thinking about studying with us until their final exams,” says Groenen. Sounds like the school for you or your staff? Learn more about their study programmes online, or get in touch with a study advisor for personal advice. Web:

Issue 64  |  April 2019  |  41

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Hybrid learning, the future of education TEXT: EVA MENGER  |  PHOTOS: NOVA COLLEGE

With 12,000 students, Nova College is not a particularly small school, yet they have managed to create an intimate feeling. Knowing everyone well is their strength: not just because it makes students feel safe, but because it allows teachers to respond to individual needs. The school is particularly proud of their hospitality programme, which has repeatedly been awarded a seal of excellence based on high student satisfaction. v “The quality of our hotel school is incredible,” director of the school’s Haarlem branch and the school’s economic de42  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

partment Annemieke van Ede tells us. Sitting within the economics department, the school’s hospitality courses include facility management, general management, chef training, host/hostessing and fast service. Van Ede: “We work closely with hotels and restaurants throughout the area to develop bespoke curricula. This way, our students learn how to develop themselves both in and outside the classroom.” When selecting business partners, Nova College ensures that there is a learning culture, with plenty of space for students to make mistakes. That is why the presence of a highly skilled and experienced

mentor is key. With a comprehensive knowledge of the industry as well as an ability to recognise the importance of personal development, these mentors are needed to coach students in their learning paths.

Hybridity Nova College promotes hybrid education, which means that they work with different formats to provide learning plans that suit the needs of individual students. This multidimensional approach helps teachers prepare their students for their career as well as their general citizenship. “A student’s professional capabilities are in-

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extricably linked to who they are as people,” director of the school’s Hoofddorp branch Harrie Bemelmans explains. Bemelmans: “Take customer approach, for example. The way in which a student treats customers has very much to do with their attitude. Our internal Nova restaurant offers a place for students to practice that. We provide feedback on their performance, and ultimately, that makes them grow as people, too.”

Types of service Hospitality courses at Nova College all focus on a specific type of service. In the school’s Hoofddorp branch, students are trained for fast-service jobs in close collaboration with HMSHost, a company supplying staff for many of Schiphol airport’s restaurants. The course was founded only recently as a reaction to the rapid emergence of fast-service restaurants: “Those restaurants have a completely different dynamic and require a service that is efficient, quick and simple,” Bemelmans states. Students can train as fast-service host, manager or company director, and will gain practical experience in a coffee shop, beach bar, chain restaurant or even a delivery service. Bemelmans: “This area of service offers excellent employment opportunities which will only grow in the future!” Like HMSHost, an increasing

number of local businesses reach out to Nova College for learning collaborations. In Haarlem, the school has close ties with many of the city’s top restaurants. The atmospheric city is known for its entrepreneurs and culinary quality and has proven to be a fantastic learning ground for Nova College’s hospitality students.

as well. Fast-service companies have indicated a demand for hospitality professionals that also know how to efficiently manage a warehouse. “We’re always looking at how our different departments can complement each other,” says Van Ede. “That’s why hospitality often works closely with events. We believe that this versatility can add incredible value to the development of our students.”

Versatility Hospitality students at Nova College are encouraged to expand their knowledge by following classes in other departments

For this same reason, the school organises competitions. As part of the school’s excellence programme, students can take part in the national Skills Heroes competition. From cooking to beauty care to hosting and account management: it is the ultimate opportunity for students to present their skills. Van Ede: “A healthy dose of competition can do a lot for someone’s motivation, and it also teaches students how to deal with the competitive aspect of business.” Both last and this year, the national title for best hostess was won by a Nova College student. Whether you are a prospective student, a teacher or a business that is interested in bespoke education: find out how Nova College can help by visiting their website.

Harrie Bemelmans.

Annemieke van Ede.


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Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future

Jacob-Jan van der Marel (left) and Ruben van Merweland (right).

Together, we are building a dream TEXT: EVA MENGER  |  PHOTOS: ROGIER BOS

Everybody is different. While some have a natural affinity for numbers, others may rather express themselves through acting or product design. At IV Estate, it is all about encouraging people to chase those talents and build their dreams. “Talent, dream, courage, wonder: those are the pillars we stand on – all held together by energy.”

ucational and professional background in business, a need for doing something more impactful took him to education. IV Estate strikes the perfect balance: in setting up special enterprises or social projects that have positive change in education and care at the heart of them, initiatives are driven from the bottom-up.

IV Estate founder Ruben van Merweland initially trained as an education professional, but his keen interest in entrepreneurship led him to top it up with an executive MBA from the prestigious Nyenrode Business University. For Jacob-Jan van der Marel, a key member of the organisation’s strategic management team, it was the other way around; with a strong ed-

It all started with a search for the human essence; who are we and how can we ensure that our society reflects that? “From experience, I learned that people are often scared of taking action,” Van Merweland explains. “Both in business and education we see constant developments, but what do we really do with it? In encouraging people to look around

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The IV Pillars Change Model (2019)

and be curious, we want to show them that they are much stronger and braver than they think they are.” At the heart of the organisation lies the internally developed IV Pillars Change Model, inspired by the model of Appreciative Inquiry (Tjepkema & Kabalt, 2012) and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow Theory (1990). A central theme for IV Estate is energy. “No change without energy,” says Van Merweland, “and besides, it powers dreams, courage, curiosity and talent.” IV Estate reaches out to partners that match their own values when looking for new projects. “Everyone we work with shares our energy and dream – and most of all, they know how important their own talents are!”

Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future

Seeing is believing One of IV Estate’s most successful projects focused on individual talent is Het Talentenhuis (The Talent House), a centre of expertise that collaborates with headmasters to shake up the school system. “It centres on the idea that every child deserves to develop their own talents. We firmly believe that knowing your talents can have a significant impact on your position in society,” Van Merweland says. “It takes courage to take that step as a headmaster, but those who did made a significant difference to the individual development and growth of their pupils.” Van der Marel: “If a child excels in something, it’s likely that they start performing better in other fields as well. Ultimately, this approach helps schools to look at their pupils differently: and that’s what we’re going for. Our team has helped over 50 schools!” Another IV Estate project that had a significant impact was Stichting Masterclass Jong Talent. In collaboration with their

partners, IV Estate sets up or takes part in projects centred on education and care. Van der Marel: “A school came to us as they had trouble engaging students with talents for things outside the traditional school curriculum. As a result, we started Stichting Masterclass Jong Talent, a foundation that celebrates all talent by delivering extracurricular master classes in art, technology, music and theatre.” These high-quality workshops are the foundation of a very strong talent programme, allowing children who otherwise might not have been able to, to keep working on their special talent outside the walls of a classroom.

Never stop innovating Just like IV Estate encourages its clients to keep dreaming and stay curious, they are not shy of learning themselves. “We are constantly looking to improve our goals. Our partners are full of energy and interest for the impossible, which is why we’re always doing research to see what’s being done on a global scale,” Van Merweland

tells us. They also learn by visiting international schools with innovative approaches: “The Performing Arts School in New York taught us that passion should come before talent when scouting students, while Columbia University showed us that the soft skill most essential for success is empathy.” This year, the team will be travelling to China for research on the future of new media and a visit to the Renmin University of China in Beijing. While there are certainly plenty of great initiatives out there, Van Merweland and Van der Marel admit that we still have a long way to go: “Our future goal is to make people aware that talents are not always straightforward. Some people find their talent when they’re 40, so don’t give up and keep searching!” Are you dreaming of a system that makes the world a stronger, better place? Web:

Van der Marel in conversation with Saja Katte (teacher) and Yoran Bos (The Talent House).

IV Estate works with their own IV Pillars Model. Photo: Pixabay

IV Estate was founded in Rotterdam. Photo: Pixabay

Yoran Bos (The Talent House) and Saja Katte (teacher) in conversation about smart technology.

Issue 64  |  April 2019  |  45


At the start of the new millennium, the number of enrolments for Dutch physics degrees had dropped so low, that authorities started to worry about the future. The world is nowhere without physicists, so something needed to happen quickly. As part of a wider programme, experts across the field joined forces to create the ultimate online one-stop shop for physics queries. Nearly 20 years later, the website attracts over a million unique visitors a year. “The platform was developed to show students in secondary education how interesting physics can be, ultimately hoping that they would consider it as a career 46  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

path,” explains Noortje de Graaf, director of the Netherlands’ Physical Society (Nederlandse Natuurkundige Vereniging). “People picked up on it quickly; students found it the ultimate resource when preparing for their tests, while teachers used it for inspiration on how to develop their lesson plans.”

Starting young By 2009, was a raging success, but the strong focus on teenagers meant that there was still a lost opportunity. “Children should ideally be exposed to science as young as possible, as this can significantly increase the chance of them developing a keen interest in the subject,” De Graaf tells us.

That is why the founders of natuurkunde. nl started, a platform focused on children aged 12 to 15, targeting not just physics but everything else related to science, too. De Graaf: “For this same reason, colleagues of mine organise an enormous science tournament for Dutch primary schools every year.” Focused on making children familiar with new developments

Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future

in science, the ’00 Techniek’ tournament is seen as a way to help primary schools effectively implement science modules into their curriculum. “The younger children start, the better,” De Graaf emphasises. “And besides that, it’s very fun!”

A growing demand Still, is where De Graaf and her colleagues can really feel the strong demand. “Every single year, website traffic escalates in May, right before students enter the final exams,” she says. “An equally clear pattern is visible during an average week, with visits typically plummeting on a Friday afternoon – and picking up on Sunday afternoon, when students across the country slowly start thinking about school again.”

nology and the Internet, education has changed quite drastically over the years, and our website needs to reflect that,” says De Graaf. Where writing strong copy used to be enough to draw people in, there is now a need for something much more interesting. That is why now also develops and publishes educational videos, and tries to stay on-topic as much as possible by creating content around major research publications within the field. De Graaf: “In the ever-changing world of science and education, it feels like there’s always something to add. But that’s not

to say that we’re not incredibly proud. Both traffic numbers and positive feedback tell us that what we’re doing is invaluable and that we must keep going. We started this website from scratch, without ever making any profit. No ads – just education.” What would she like to see in the future? “More women,” she answers firmly. “Though the percentage of women in physics is growing, it’s still very much a man’s world. And I would love for that to be different.” Web:

But it is not just the students that are showing a demand, as teachers have also displayed great appreciation for the wealth of teaching materials available on the site. They use the article section for inspiration on what to talk about in their lessons and download the exercises for use in their tests. “For students, this is, of course, an extra motivation to visit the site frequently,” De Graaf admits. “They probably hope that they will bump into an exercise that they will be tested on in class! But, due to the vast amount of practice material available on the site, the chance of that happening is incredibly slim.” Another effective way for students to gain benefit from the website is by asking questions. The FAQ section is specially designed for students that are getting stuck, and holds a 24-hour answering policy. “A group of teachers works hard to answer these questions without giving anything away,” De Graaf tells us. Instead of getting plain answers, students will always be encouraged to think about why they do not understand a certain concept: is it because they are not looking at the bigger picture, or because they are missing a crucial step? Whether it is through asking online questions or watching video content: today’s students want learning to be interactive. “Responding to the emergence of techIssue 64  |  April 2019  |  47

Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future

Photo: Mark Engelen


Few biotopes are as limitless as a theatre. From the moment the lights dim, and the spotlights ignite, the most amazing worlds can be created out of thin air and just a touch of imagination. No wonder so many kids dream to be on stage themselves. At the Jeugdtheaterhuis, these dreams become reality. With exciting classes, dynamic workshops and spectacular productions, they welcome the next generation of actors and actresses into the theatre. “You are never too young to act,” says Theo Ham, director of the Jeugdtheaterhuis. “Acting is, actually, a form of play48  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

ing. And it would be very weird if a child is too young to play, no?” In this philosophy, the institution offers after-school theatre classes to the youngest of all creative minds. At the age of just four, children are welcome for a first introduction to acting. Up until the age of 21, they can continue to grow within the walls of the Jeugdtheaterhuis. “Essentially, we guide our pupils through three stages: getting in touch with theatre, delving into it and specialising in it. Some children only join the ranks for a short time and don’t make it further than a brief introduction. Yet, others stay with us for over a decade and leave with a fair share of expertise and knowledge.”

Different approaches Within its after-school offering, the Jeugdtheaterhuis applies two different approaches: product-orientated journeys and process-orientated ones. “We see different kinds of children arrive here. Some are eager to perform straight away.

Theo Ham.

Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future

Others prefer experimenting and niggling to create something of their own. We provide a creative bubble for both types of aspiring actors. In our house, everyone can explore theatre how they want to.” From this year on, the Jeugdtheaterhuis is offering a third option as well: Acteerlab. This programme is not bound to a static structure and a list of objectives but grows organically throughout the years. “The internet is a big competitor for organisations like ours. Many children unwind online nowadays, completely free, without timetables and guidelines. To make our association more appealing to them, we created this class, the curriculum of which gets determined in dialogue with the pupils themselves. It is a very exciting, intuitive and collaborative way to work with theatre.” The fourth trajectory they offer focuses on musicals, an art form that, according to Ham, is one of the hardest to master. Therefore, they do not just train their students’ acting, singing and dancing skills, but they also teach you how to do all three at the same time.

and offer them a professional working experience. For every screening, a group of 12 less experienced pupils will join the ranks for one evening only. This way, we can give lots of beginners a glimpse at how professional theatre works and let them learn from the main actors.” Hearing this, it might not surprise you that the Jeugdtheaterhuis leaves a big footprint on the Dutch theatre scene. “We don’t call ourselves a stepping stone to making a career in theatre. Yet, the facts speak for themselves. A fair share of our alumni play on big national and international stages.”

Representation and diversity Unlike most organisations, the Jeugdtheaterhuis stays away from big cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague and settles in five smaller cities in the province of South Holland instead. Here, it reaches those youngsters who, otherwise, would not have access to professional theatre classes. In that same spirit, they also join forces with multiple schools in disadvantaged neighbour-

hoods. “Many of their pupils have never been in a theatre before. And because of financial or cultural hurdles, you don’t find them in after-school classes like ours either. By organising brief initiations during their classes, we whet their appetite for theatre. Afterwards, they can sign up for a series of free after-school sessions within the school’s walls, during which we create a small play for friends and family. Then, if we spot pupils who are very excited, we try to persuade them to join one of our out-of-school programmes.” Since the Dutch government funds the hobbies of less fortunate children and youngsters, they can even join for free. “If you look at the demographics in our classes, today, you see a representative and diverse reflection of the society. The pupils, however, don’t care about those differences. They just want to make theatre together as friends, regardless of how they live and where they come from.” Web:

Big international stages Every so often, all this cumulative talent results in a professional theatre piece that roams the Dutch cultural centres. This year, the Jeugdtheaterhuis is making Beer, a family production that synthesises everything the organisation stands for. “Through auditions, we have selected a cast with our best actors and actresses

Issue 64  |  April 2019  |  49

Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future

Open up your future with an IELTS certificate with the British Council TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: BRITISH COUNCIL

With English increasingly becoming the standard language of communication at universities, businesses and organisations around the world, there is a growing need for individuals to hold an internationally recognised English language qualification. In the Benelux, the British Council offers this qualification through the delivery of IELTS (International English Language Testing System) examinations held throughout the year and at numerous locations. The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities and is on the ground in six continents and over 100 countries, bringing international opportunity to life. For one, the British Council provides the IELTS tests. IELTS is globally recognised as evidence of English language proficiency, with roughly three million tests taken world50  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

wide in 2017. This test is delivered under strict examination conditions three times a month at numerous locations in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. It comprises four components: reading, listening, writing and speaking, and uses a nine-band scale to clearly identify levels of proficiency, from non-user (band score 1) through to expert (band score 9).

Fair to all IELTS treats all test takers with the utmost fairness and respect by actively avoiding cultural bias, and accepting all standard varieties of native-speaker English, including North American, British, Australian and New Zealand English.

Recognised worldwide The test is not only a requirement for institutions in the Benelux, the rest of Europe and Asia, but also for students who want to go and study in the UK, or people hoping to move to Canada, the

US or Australia. It is accepted by over 10,000 institutions across the world. To help prepare for the test, the British Council provides 30 hours of free online study materials, comprising multiple exercises, instruction videos and tips for maximising the exam result. In addition, there are a number of different apps, so that you can study wherever and whenever you want. They also offer live Facebook sessions with IELTS experts, and free online courses several times per year.

The Netherlands: Web: Facebook: britishcouncilNetherlands Twitter: @nl_British Belgium: Web: Facebook: britishcouncilBelgium Twitter: @be_British

Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future

Tailor-made training on experimental methods in wastewater treatment.

Students in front of the building celebrating World Water Day 2018.

Students in front of IHE Delft building with Delft blue art tea cup.

IHE Delft is educating the world about water TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: IHE DELFT

Finding the balance between having enough fresh water and protecting people from the risks that water can pose, has become essential in today’s world. IHE Delft Institute for Water Education educates water professionals from all over the world to be problem-orientated, to try to meet water-related challenges effectively. “Water is a necessity for peace, prosperity and stability in this world,” says Eddy Moors, rector of the Institute and a professor in climate change. IHE Delft was founded in 1957. “After the North Sea floods in 1953 – where nearly 2,000 people died – and following floods in other parts of the world, the Dutch government wanted to put the knowledge gained after the floods in one place,” continues Moors. “This way we could share it with the rest of the world.” From there, IHE Delft expanded the subjects to water pollution, access to clean water and much more. It is the largest post-graduate institute of its kind in the world. “Our work here was seen as so important, that in 2003 we joined

UNESCO, and are now independently operating under their auspices.” IHE Delft also advises international organisations and governments about water management and governance.

A Master of Science in Water The Institute offers five Master of Science (MSc) programmes, with a total of 16 specialisations covering the entire spectrum of water. The programmes run for 12 or 18 months and are followed by water professionals from all walks of government, private sector and academic institutions. At their ‘campus’ in Delft in the Netherlands, students have access to teaching and research laboratories, and there is residential accommodation provided nearby. Many of the students at IHE Delft are people from Asia, Africa and Latin America, who want more knowledge about water issues. The programmes are orientated towards practical knowledge, but approached from an academic angle. “Water issues are not isolated, they have to be put in a larger, geopolitical context,” says Moors. A lot of the

students come to IHE Delft on fellowships, provided by the Dutch government, their countries or international foundations such as Rotary and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. IHE Delft relies on partners like this for student scholarships. “It is amazing to see how all their individual skills and experiences come together during their academic journey,” smiles Moors. “They really learn from each other, and we learn from them as well. We want to educate as many water professionals as possible, to make a real change in the world.”

Alumnus Diego Restrepo Zambrano indicating the potential height of the flood water. Diego is a hydroinformatics specialist in Bogotá, Colombia. Photo: Gil Garcetti.


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Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future


If there is something our economy needs more than anything else, it is talented, enthusiastic and independent doers. At Friesland College, the students learn their trade the practical way. This way, they graduate with a head full of knowledge as well as a pair of practised hands.

course. “Companies sometimes come to us themselves with suggestions to adapt our programme even more to the reality. Among others, the airline industry has recently asked us to teach our cabin crew students more about wines. This way, they are even better prepared to work on business-class flights in the future.”

“At Friesland College, you learn the trade for a practical mid-level job,” says Tom Valk, director of Friesland College’s school of commerce and services. “We offer a broad variety of studies, from training to become a sommelier or entrepreneur in retail and social work to carpentry. Yet, what makes us even more unique is our philosophy of practical learning. We strongly believe that you comprehend your theory better if you immediately apply it in practice. Therefore, our students regularly leave the campus to observe and gain experience in the field.” This contact with the sector itself also helps the school to keep their curriculums relevant. They teach their students exactly what the industry needs them to know and let the practice dictate the

Now that more and more tourists are finding their way to the beautiful region of Friesland, the tourism-related subjects at Friesland College are gaining popularity as well. Nonetheless, all those aspiring towards a life as a steward or stewardess, have to follow the general tourism programme at the campuses in Leeuwarden and Heerenveen first. “Here, they explore the ins and outs of the travel industry in the broadest sense. They peek behind the curtains at hotels, tour operators, ticket offices, airports and many other dynamic biotopes. If, by the end of the training, they still choose to work up in the air, they can commence the flight-attendant training.” This programme combines a sizeable theoretic foundation with lots of hands-on training.

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Not only during the two internships (one on the ground and one in the air) but also in the advanced simulation aeroplane at the school itself. “Like a cherry on top, the lion’s share of our cabin crew alumni graduates already have a contract with an airline. In general, Friesland College’s alumni find good jobs easily. Given that they have received plenty of hands-on training, made many valuable contacts during their practical exercises and learned to work very independently, they are high in demand on the job market.”


Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future

‘The biggest sailing network in the world’ TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: ENKHUIZER ZEEVAARTSCHOOL

Sailing vessels used to rule the oceans, until they were replaced by engine-powered ships. But the passion for sailing never really went away, and sailing ships are making a comeback. These days, hundreds of sailing vessels and tall ships, both private and commercial, navigate the seas, inner-waters and oceans. To man these ships, you need to have a special set of skills. At the Enkhuizer Zeevaartschool (EZS), however, you can learn the ropes. “Nautical education has always been important in the Netherlands,” explains Cosmo Wassenaar, director of EZS. “So it was simple logic that a school was founded just for traditional sailing vessels. Today, we are the only Dutch school, and effectively the only one in the world, that provides this expert training.” EZS, which was founded in 1978, offers courses for ‘Coastal restricted commercial sailing vessels (KZV)’ and ‘Ocean going commercial Sailing vessels (GZV)’, as well as a sailing endorsement for merchant mariners,

Bosun-courses, basic safety training, medical first aid and care training, and MARCOM-A GMDSS-radio operator courses. The courses are over a period of five months, with at least one day of training per week in their school building in Enkhuizen, north of Amsterdam, and concluding with officially recognised exams. “Sailing is about the greenest form of transport there is. Climate change is definitely a reason for students to enrol. That is why we try to make our school environmentally friendly too,” says Wassenaar. “We use our own solar-panel generated electricity and hot water, and we also try to minimise single use plastics (S.U.P.s); students are requested to re-use plastic packaging.”

elaborates Wassenaar. The students who enrol at the school come from all ages, regions and backgrounds. “It can be merchant sailors who want to become experts in sailing, or people who are joining friends on a sail yacht, and want to be able to help on the ship during the trip.” This diversity and passion make the school the biggest sailing network in the world, creating all kinds of initiatives amongst the students. “We are really proud of the fact that almost a third of students who enrol are female. Sailing is still predominantly a man’s world, so seeing our female students becoming captains of tall ships is amazing,” smiles Wassenaar.

All ages, regions and backgrounds EZS’s expertise is known throughout the world. “We were offered the opportunity to train the Navy of an East-Asian country, for instance. They recently commissioned a sailing ship and the sailors needed to be educated in manning it,”


Issue 64  |  April 2019  |  53

Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future

The Dutch language school without borders TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: LANGUAGEONE

When moving abroad, there are 1,001 things for you to think about. For example, how will you continue your children’s education in their mother tongue? At its language hubs all around the world, LanguageOne improves your children’s Dutch in a fun and constructive way. The importance of mastering your mother tongue cannot be overestimated. Not only does it make it easier to study other subjects such as mathematics and science, but it also gives you a major advantage while learning foreign languages: a skill most vital when living abroad. “Nonetheless, the biggest benefit to our students is that they can return home again more confidently,” says Deidre Jakobs, managing director at LanguageOne. “Most families only move abroad for an assignment of a few years. On return, they want their kids to easily be able to re-enter Dutch education. But after a few months without Dutch classes, they will already lag behind the Dutch schools’ expectations. Continuing their Dutch classes abroad is therefore paramount.” LanguageOne was founded 35 years ago when Shell wanted to provide quality 54  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

mother-tongue education to the families of its employees abroad. Over the years, LanguageOne became a Dutch Language and Culture school in nine different cities in Asia, the Middle-East and Australia. “In most of those places, our students come to us once a week for a session of three hours after day-school. Yet, in some international schools, there are so many Dutch children, that the school asks us to offer Dutch on a daily basis during school hours.” And even if you do not live near a LanguageOne school, you can still enrol to their long-distance programme. With a weekly, private Skype lesson and some self-study, students develop their Dutch language skills in a flexible and contemporary manner.” For families who are about to leave back home, LanguageOne even offers boost programmes to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Letting your children study an extra language on top of going to school all week might seem intense, yet, LanguageOne gives it their all to make the classes as interactive and fun as possible. “Although the majority of our programme focuses on the language, we also discuss Dutch and Flemish culture. We even celebrate King’s Day in class. For most of our stu-

dents, the time they spend with us is a weekly trip to their home country. They talk, play, and learn with other Dutch and Flemish children, after which they return to their tropical reality.”

LanguageOne in facts LanguageOne has schools in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Muscat, Perth, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Suzhou, and operates a distancelearning school. All LanguageOne schools are accredited for the Dutch language programmes by the Dutch Ministry of Education. Current market demand led to LanguageOne offering English to repat children wanting to maintain a (high) level of English upon return to the Dutch school system.


Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Education  |  Building a Bright Future

Education as it was meant to be TEXT: KARIN VENEMA  |  PHOTOS: THE NEW SCHOOL

At The New School, all teachers teach parttime, alongside their professional career. “We wouldn’t have it any other way,” smiles Kees Spijker, director of The New School. “We are a private university of applied sciences, so all our teachers not only teach, but also apply their expertise and know the ins and outs of the profession.” The New School was founded in 1987 in Amsterdam as a non-profit organisation, and is an accredited HBO-institution (University of applied sciences). It offers a four-year Bachelor programme on marketing, communication, creativity and entrepreneurship. “What is different about The New School is that the classes are small: they have a maximum of 14 students,” says Spijker. “The lessons are interactive, it’s a dialogue between the students and teachers rather than a lecture. Because there are only 150 students, we all know each other and work as a team to get the most out of personal qualities. There is a strong emphasis

on personal development and we guide the students through their journey of discovering their future career.” Spijker brings up the story of a student who, for his second year of work experience, contacted several media bureaus and rode his motorcycle towards Singapore whilst blogging about the experience. Although he got stranded in Nepal, it was very educational for him to experience the slow shift from sending information out to an anonymous audience, to people starting to approach him and requesting meeting up. “He learned so much! At The New School we put great value on creativity and

using initiative,” concludes Spijker. “A massive compliment came from one of the members of the accreditation committee who visited us last week, who remarked that the education that we provide, is education as it was meant to be.”

The New School open day will take place on 26 May.


Become a reading expert TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: PEXELS

The fact that you are perusing this article right now demonstrates that you know how to read. But do you read efficiently? On its online platform, Leesprofs teaches you the right techniques to bolster your reading skills in just one month. “The way we learn to read in primary school is good, but not optimal for handling large amounts of text,” says Marcel Luijendijk. Together with Tom van Rijk, he founded the online reading school Leesprofs. On their platform, they teach youngsters from 14 years plus, a myriad of methods to improve their reading capabilities drastically in just one month. “Throughout the programme, the student receives a selection of small exercises. It takes about ten to 12 hours to complete them all, yet, our students decide themselves when they choose to make them. Every time they finish an exercise, one of our

teachers corrects it and provides feedback.” After completing the training, Leesprofs will send follow-up emails with small exercises and extra tips. These will trigger you to apply your freshly-gained techniques in daily life. “What sets Leesprofs apart from other institutions is the scientific substantiation behind the methods we use. They were developed by the Australian air force in 1969 and have been kept up-to-date ever since.

Every time new knowledge about reading surfaces, we adjust our methods to those new insights.” Today, these techniques are taught in no less than 36 countries. And for good reason: studies show that once you master them, your reading abilities will remain improved for the rest of your life.


Issue 64  |  April 2019  |  55

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Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Déborah François


Belgium meets the Wild West Since being discovered by the filmmaking duo Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne at the age of just 16, the rise of Belgian actor Déborah François has been unstoppable. Now aged 31, she has a long list of credits to her name, ranging from playing Fleur Duval in the drama Le Premier Jour du reste de ta vie (The First Day of the Rest of Your Life) – a role which earned her a César Award in France – to her captivating performance in the hugely successful French romantic comedy Populaire. Always keen to experiment with different genres, this year sees the release of François’ latest project, the Western Never Grow Old, which she stars in oppositeJohn Cusack and Emile Hirsch. It is just another example of François’ superb range as a performer, and looks set to see this talented Belgian catapult even higher on the global stage. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: CYNTHIA FREBOUR

er, François grew up in Liège, although she now calls the French capital home. “Belgians are so nice too,” she grins. “That’s what they say in Paris, there’s a nice, small Belgian community.”

“I’m so happy for my country,” smiles François, as she reflects on the phenomenon that is Belgian cinema. From the global acclaim achieved by newcomers such as Lukas Dhont to film icons like the Dardenne brothers, for such a small country the concentration of talent is extraordinary.

Dardenne brothers

“We many not have the same film history as France, but that gives us more liberty. There may be less money, but there is more freedom,” she muses. The daughter of a policeman and a social work-

François has fond memories of her first acting job, starring in the Dardenne brothers’ 2005 Palme d’Or-winning film L’Enfant (The Child). “That was where the adventure began,” she recalls, admitting that the professionalism she witnessed on set made a

real impact on her. “Jean-Pierre and Luc [Dardenne] gave me an idea of strictness that has really stayed with me. I don’t think it’s necessarily good to have no constraints, I think actors should always be professional and never forget that we have one of most beautiful professions in the world. We are not heart surgeons, we’re not working in a factory, we are lucky - so we need to stay professional, polite and respectful. If someone doesn’t want to do that, then they should go and do a job which won’t make them happy.” Issue 64  |  April 2019  |  57

Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Déborah François

Go west François’ professionalism has clearly stood her in good stead, as the roles keep coming in. This year, she plays the female lead in Never Grow Old, a Western directed by Irish filmmaker Ivan Kavanagh. The film also stars John Cusack and Emile Hirsch, and tells the story of an Irish undertaker and his family under threat in an American frontier town taken over by outlaws. The film was an Irish and Luxembourgish co-production, and was filmed partly in Luxembourg, with François playing Audrey Tate, the wife of Hirsch’s character Patrick Tate.

Beautiful love story Also out this year is L’autre continent, by French director Romain Cogitore, where François stars opposite Paul Hamy in a love story set in Taiwan. “It’s a beautiful love story about two expats – a boy and a girl who fall in love, but then the boy becomes ill,” reveals François. “It made me think, how would I react in that situation? That is one of the great things about acting, it means we pose questions that we wouldn’t normally ask everyday. It’s interesting to explore all the parts of being human.” A true lover of the arts, François admits if she had not got into acting, she could have seen herself being a teacher, due to her passion for literature. Does that mean we can expect a screenplay or novel anytime soon? “I think my big love will always be acting,” she admits. “However, I do have lots of ideas and this year, I’m going to write. I believe that could please me too, but at the same

Playing opposite Paul Hamy in L’autre continent.

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The actor stars in L’autre continent, directed by Romain Cogitore.

time I don’t think I could be happy doing just that. I’d miss acting too much if I went completely behind the camera. I also need to express myself by acting. I do think the two are complementary though.”

On stage Also on François’ to-do list is treading the boards again. “Theatre was always my passion, from a very young age,” remembers the star. “I would love to get back on the stage. I’m not sure if I’d do something classic or contemporary. What I love about theatre is how important the text is. It’s quite overwhelming to play the same text every night, it doesn’t stop! It’s not like cinema, where we can redo a scene,” she explains. “It’s not like we have loads of time in cinema, but we can give several versions of a scene, whereas in the theatre you need to make a choice. You can do it slightly differently the next night, but the play needs to be the same quality every night for the spectators.”

Supporting diversity One thing François does feel very strongly about is increasing the numbers of female directors in the industry, and for more diversity across the board. She is a supporter of the 50/50 By 2020 collective, which organised the women’s march at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. “It’s 2019 and we haven’t evolved on so many things,” laments François. “For example, why is the budget for a female director’s first film inferior to that of a male director’s first film? We need to ask questions.” “It’s not only women we are lacking, it’s diversity, quite simply,” she concludes. “And diversity is what makes cinema.”

The magic of film François’ passion for her craft is undeniable. What is it that she loves so much about acting? “I think it’s being able to transfer emotions that could be sad or hurtful in my own life, into something which, when people watch a film, can make them happy or let them express themselves,” she explains. “When people are touched by a film I think there are emotions they can’t necessarily express, perhaps they are too personal or it touches them too closely: but all of a sudden, seeing a film which might not be on the same subject at all, can provide a distance that means all of a sudden, they get an insight into their own life. It releases the pressure. Being able to make people happy, or transform something that could be quite sad into something positive – that’s special! People sometimes say coming out of a drama ‘I feel cleansed’. That is quite magical.”

François portrays Audrey Tate in the Western Never Grow Old.

Issue 64  |  April 2019  |  59



There’s no place like Flanders! From famous destinations such as Antwerp – the city of diamonds – to unmissable gems such as Leuven and Dendermonde, not to mention the rural highlights of the beautiful Limburg province, Flanders has all the ingredients for an unforgettable escapade. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: VISIT FLANDERS

To the east of Leuven lies the magnificent Hageland.

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Discover Benelux  |  There’s No Place Like Flanders!  |  Discover Top Flemish Destinations

The Port House. Photo: Havenbedrijf Antwerpen, Peter Knoop

If it is a stylish city break you want, then look no further than Antwerp, which the highly respected travel guide Lonely Planet picked as one of its Top Ten Best Cities 2018. This city is home to worldclass shopping, a vibrant diamond trade and the prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts, best-known for its fashion department whose long list of alumni include designers Martin Margiela, Dries Van Noten and Peter Pilotto. Art aficionados will not want to miss the city’s numerous cultural offerings, starting with Rubenshuis, the former home and studio of celebrated Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens.

Food & drink In the mood for a gourmet weekend? Then make your next stop Leuven, the capital city of the Flemish Brabant province. This university city is brimming with ancient heritage, and is also the world’s beer capital – it marks the birthplace of Stella Artois. This food and drink haven is famed for the Leuven Beer Weekends, which take place this month from 13 to 28 April. Another destination with plenty to offer tourists is Dendermonde, located in the Flemish province of East Flanders in the Denderstreek. Highlights include a charming historical centre and the eagerly anticipated Bayard Horse Parade, which takes

place every ten years. A perfect-sized city to explore on bike, Dendermonde is family friendly and a real hidden gem.

Postcard perfect Meanwhile, if you want to make the most of the Flanders region’s stunning scenery, make sure the Limburg province is on your list. Surrounded by orchards of apple and pear trees, the small city of Borgloon, also known as Looz or just Loon, offers a postcard-perfect place to stay. April is typically the time when the region is in bloom, although it is beautiful all year round. Do not miss De Stroopfabriek: a brand-new experience centre all about the region’s delicious syrups and fruit.

Statue Silvio Brabo, Antwerp. Photo: Milo Profi

Rubenstuin Antwerp.

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D AT E S F O R Y O U R D I A R Y Leuven Beer Weekends 13 - 28 April

For three weekends in April, the city of Leuven celebrates all things beer, with tours, tastings and brewery visits galore. Highlights include the Zythos Beer Festival, the largest beer tasting festival of its kind in Europe and the Leuven Innovation Beer Festival, a showcase for pioneering craft breweries. You can also enjoy beer walks, workshops and much more.

ishing in the famous Grote Markt in the heart of the old city. There is always a wonderful atmosphere, with the event attracting plenty of supporters.

Genk on Stage 28 - 30 June

2019 marks the 17th annual Genk on Stage, a fabulous free event which welcomes well-known and up-and-coming names from both home and abroad to perform at what is always an eclectic entertainment extravaganza.

Antwerp 10 Miles & Marathon 28 April

The Antwerp 10 Flanders’ largest again, thousands gather in the city,

Miles & Marathon is running event. Once of sports fanatics will with the marathon fin-

The Port House. Photo: Visit Antwerp

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an unmissable event in Europe’s cultural calendar. During a period of ten days, four international festivals can be enjoyed, bringing everything from live music to children’s activities at various locations across the city.

Ghent Festivities 20 - 28 July

Since its launch more than 160 years ago, the Ghent Festivities has become

Leuven Innovation Beer Festival. Photo: Leva

The Bayard Horse Parade 24 May 2020

It is worth noting this date well in advance, as the famous Bayard Horse Parade takes place in Dendermonde just once every ten years. Next year’s return looks set to be as impressive as ever, with theatrical and musical re-enactments and contemporary performances. Witness the procession of the beautiful Bayard Horse and soak up the magical, once-in-a-decade atmosphere.

Dendermonde, Bayard Steed.

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Central Station. Photo:


A pocket-sized metropolis TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK  |  PHOTOS: VISIT ANTWERP

Shining proudly on the banks of the River Scheldt, the bustling port city of Antwerp boasts a rich medieval history that seamlessly merges with a vibrant and decidedly modern atmosphere. With everything from cutting-edge culture and fashion to cosy shopping streets and lively terraces teeming with old-world grandeur, Belgium’s ‘capital of cool’ is one to definitely keep in mind when planning your next weekend getaway. 64  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

History & architecture In the 16th century, the expanding city of Antwerp had already established its mercantile reputation as one of the most important trading ports in Europe for products such as spices and sugar. Today, the cosmopolitan city is home to Europe’s second-largest port and still buzzes as it did when it received merchants from every corner of the world. With a current population of approximately 530,000, it is also Belgium’s second-largest city.

Nevertheless, Antwerp manages to retain a laid-back atmosphere and never feels overwhelming. The city can easily be discovered on foot, and for those coming by train, the wooing begins as soon as they arrive at its jaw-droppingly magnificent central station. Trumping the list of the world’s most beautiful railway stations, this architectonic masterpiece was constructed between 1895 and 1905 in an eclectic

Discover Benelux  |  There’s No Place Like Flanders!  |  Discover Top Flemish Destinations

mix of styles. The iconic station, situated just 30 minutes from Brussels Airport, is not only a convenient way to access the Flemish hub, but is one of the most impressive welcomes a city can offer. “You really arrive in style when you come to Antwerp by train,” says Claire Mertens, marketing and communications manager at Visit Antwerpen. It is interesting to note that by 2020, Het Steen, the city’s cradle and oldest monument, will also serve as a gateway to Antwerp as well as a cruise terminal and a central point for tourism. The building, which originated as a fortress and was later a prison and a museum, has been undergoing extensive renovations since 2018. Though not open to the public just yet, it is one of the must-see landmarks on the banks of the River Scheldt. Just a five-minute walk from Het Steen is Grote Markt, a historic and animated square in the old quarter full of restaurants, bars and terraces, where more striking buildings vie for your attention. Among them, the Town Hall (a UNESCO World Heritage site), with its Renaissancestyle facade and the richly decorated guild houses. Other architectural wonders in the city include the striking Port House. A fine example of where old meets new, this beautifully renovated former firehouse is daringly crowned with a diamond-shaped superstructure designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid. Equally worth ex-

Rubenshuis. Photo: Gianni Camilleri.

Photo: Victoriano Moreno

ploring is Cogels-Osylei, an attractive residential avenue with sumptuous Art Nouveau buildings that will transport you back to the glory days of the Belle Époque.

Museums & culture Those who enjoy art and culture will be spoilt for choice at Antwerp’s aweinspiring museums. The Rubens House, where the city’s renowned Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens lived and worked, includes top pieces such as one of only four known self-portraits of his. Admirers of modern art might want to head to the Museum of Contemporary Art (M HKA), located in Antwerp’s Zuid (South) neighbourhood, a cultural hotspot with galleries and other museums, such as the Photo

Museum (FOMU) and the Royal Museum of Fine Art (currently under construction). Antwerp is the globe’s diamond capital, so it should come as no surprise that there is even a museum dedicated to these precious gemstones. According to Mertens, “More than eight out of ten diamonds in the whole world has been through Antwerp at least once.” Good reason, then, to stop by the DIVA Antwerp Home of Diamonds and learn about the history of these and other luxury goods while admiring the lavish collection. The MAS (Museum aan de Stroom), dedicated to the city and its relationship

Bollekesfeest. Photo: Gianni Camilleri.

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Shopping. Photo: Mark Van Cleven

with other cultures, is housed in an eyecatching brick and glass building that has been enticing visitors since its opening in 2011. A collection of more than 500,000 pieces is divided over nine floors that ultimately lead to a rooftop terrace where you can revel in an exceptional bird’s-eye view over the city. It just so happens that the MAS is in the hip-and-happening old port neighbour-

hood Het Eilandje, home not only to great bars and restaurants, but also to the Port House and the recently renovated Red Star Line Museum of migration. And because no trip to Belgium would be complete without a chocolate indulgence, a visit to Chocolate Nation, the world’s largest Belgian chocolate museum, is definitely recommended. Rest

Museum aan de Stroom. Photo: Sarah Blee, Neutelings Riedijk Architecten

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assured that your visit will be both informative and delicious – there is plenty to taste along the way!

Food, shopping… and relaxation It is not just chocolate that attracts gourmets to the city. “We always say even a quick bite is of high quality in Antwerp. There is a lot of craftsmanship to be found in our food scene,” says Mertens. Photo: Noortje Palmers

Discover Benelux  |  There’s No Place Like Flanders!  |  Discover Top Flemish Destinations

Indulge in a paper cone filled with steamy, thick-cut chips topped with mayonnaise as you stroll through the cobblestoned streets. Then grab a seat at a ‘brown café’ or terrace and sample a local beer such as a ‘Bolleke’ from the De Koninck, one of the city’s several breweries which is open to the public. In the mood to savour a proper meal? There are a wealth of restaurants to satisfy even the most discerning of palates. Among them, places serving regional cuisine such as De 7 Schaken on the corner of Grote Markt or Brasserie Appelmans on Papenstraatje. Known for its fashion scene and designers such as Dries van Noten, Antwerp is a shopping mecca where retail therapy takes on a whole new dimension. Check out the many boutiques, pop-up stores and quirky vintage shops. Or go for a walk along the Meir, the city’s top shopping street with myriad international chain stores, while taking note of the fabulous Rococo architecture: “I always tell people to remember to look up when walking through the Meir,” advises Mertens. “There are so many lovely buildings.”

Photo: Frederik Beyens

Should you be in the mood for a little quiet respite after getting a taste of what Antwerp has to offer, hop on the free ferry to the left bank and feast your eyes on the city from a distance. Chances are it will not be long before you are crav-

ing to go back for even more awesome experiences awaiting you at this exciting pocket-sized metropolis! Web:

Skyline. Photo: Sepp Van Dun

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Bayard Steed.


There is no animal that the citizens of Dendermonde love as much as the gigantic wooden Bayard Steed. Concealed from the public eye, the black stallion spends his days in solitude in his urban stable. Yet, once every decade, he breaks free to parade through the city during a grand, folkloristic cavalcade. Prepare yourself for 2020, because the Bayard Steed is almost ready to gallop again. Situated between Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent (Belgium’s three biggest cities) lies the cosy and historical town of Dendermonde. Its medieval city centre is one of the oldest on Belgian soil and houses no less than two UNESCO World 68  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

Heritage sites. However, the town is not crowded with tourists, making it an ideal spot for an interesting, intimate and alternative city trip. That said, once every decade, the quiet town becomes the roaring, folkloristic capital of Belgium, when tens of thousands of eager tourists strike down in Dendermonde to witness the mighty Bayard Steed parade through its streets.

ished. Yet, nowhere, the tale lives on so prominently as in Dendermonde.” The first Bayard Steed Parade was held as far back as 1807. In the subsequent decennia, the horse would conquer the city’s streets again sporadically, on an irregular basis. In 1986, the building Bayard was kept in was about to be demolished. A move to a

Since 1807 “The saga of the Bayard Steed dates back to the Middle Ages,” says Greta Van Acker from Tourism Dendermonde. “Back then, stories like these were spread by travelling troubadours. Therefore, in many cities, like Brussels and Mechelen, similar legends about the Bayard Steed are cher-

Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk.

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new location imposed itself. The transport of the beloved horse became a small parade on its own, with thousands of spectators in the streets. “When we saw how enthusiastically the horse was greeted, the city started organising the mythical procession every ten years, at the break of each decade.”

A trip to Dendermonde

800 kilogrammes plus four children The wooden Bayard Steed, the showpiece of the cavalcade, is no less than 4.85 metres tall and 5.2 metres long. It takes three groups of 12 strong man, called ‘de pijnders’, to alternately carry the 800-kilogramme contraption through the course for six and a half hours. Not just in a casual trot forwards, but with an impressive prance every now and then as well. To do this, the first row of ‘pijnders’ lifts the front of the horse in the air while the last ones bend through their knees. As if this was not heavy enough, four boys are sitting on top of the horse: the children of Aymond. “These roles are always played by four brothers aged between seven and 21 years old who are born and raised in the city. The parts are very popular since these boys remain local superstars for as long as they live here. Yet, only families who meet the long list of requirements have a shot.” Proceeding the horse is a big parade of intriguing scenes. Where the theme of the first act varies with every edition, the sec-

Butchers’ hall.

ond one, traditionally, acts out the local version of the saga of the Bayard Steed. In the last act, traditional characters like the guild’s giants and the halberdiers prelude the arrival of the mighty stallion. In total, a dazzling 2,000 characters play their part in the medieval festival. “Most of them live in the city or close by and contribute to the parade every time. Often, kids join for the first time on the boat with toddlers, participate again ten years later as a plate carrier, and keep changing from part to part for decennia to come.”

Even when the parade does not cross the centre, Dendermonde is still a must-see for all city trippers. With a straight train from almost all the nearby cities, you can reach the town in a heartbeat. Discover the UNESCOprotected city hall with its bell tower and the 14th-century butchers’ hall. Due to its humble size, the city can be explored in just one day and without the usual worming through the crowds. Beautiful buildings and fine arts (among which, two works by Antoon van Dyck) await you in the centre, while the green oasis just outside of the former city walls forms the perfect backdrop for a walk, a bike trip, or some relaxing family time.

Steed Parade was granted the status of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. “And rightfully so,” Van Acker emphasises. “Outsiders sometimes mock the excitement of Dendermonde’s citizens about their horse. Yet, the moment it gallops on the main square, many spectators who used to mock us get tears in their eyes themselves. Even in 2019, when a myriad of entertainment is just a mouseclick away, an ancient procession like this can still strike a nerve throughout all generations.”

Tears in their eyes Because of its deep roots, fascinating history and local character, the Bayard


The guilds’ giants.

Bayard Steed.

Issue 64  |  April 2019  |  69

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In the region of Haspengouw, the production of fruit conducts the rhythm of history. The apples, pears, cherries and berries create both its marvellous landscape and its blooming local economy. In the newly opened experience centre De Stroopfabriek, you can discover the juicy story behind your favourite healthy snacks. Now that the soft spring breeze blows through the Flemish countryside, the fruit trees from Haspengouw reveal their colourful secrets. Thousands of cheerful blossoms prelude the arrival of the region’s famous apples, pears and cherries, making it a paradise for cyclists and hikers. To top off your fruity getaway to the Limburgian countryside, the charming city of Borgloon now reveals ‘De Stroopfabriek’: a brand-new experience centre about the region’s delicious syrups and fruit. “This building used to be a syrup factory, but had been deteriorating for decades already,” says Annemie 70  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

Pallen, the city’s tourism coordinator. “After its thorough renovation, the former factory is now ready to teach its visitors the story behind fruit. With interactive screens and buttons galore, you can immerse yourself in the history of fruit farming and the journey from seed to store. In the many available games, you can buy fruit in a virtual auction house or ‘genetically modify’ an apple or a pear to your own – however crazy – preferences. In between all of that, you will discover how farmers used to receive the weather forecast, which equipment you need for trimming a tree and a myriad of other fruity facts. Next to the experience centre, another part of the big complex will fulfil its original purpose again: making delicious syrup. “We started producing the exact product which was made here several decades ago. Along with other local delicacies, it will be available in the regional specialties shop in De Stroopfabriek.” If you want to

taste these treats on the beautiful premises itself, the on-site bistro De Smaakfabriek is the place to be. Belgian top chef Giovani Oosters takes it upon himself to serve culinary magic with Haspengouw’s traditional delicacies. “Next to syrup, our local wines, beers, meat and other regional delicacies will earn their spot on the menu; a perfect synthesis to end your fruity day with.”


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Photo: Tim Buelens

Photo: Jan Op De Kamp

Photo: Tim Buelens

Leuven, the city of beer TEXT: ELINE JOLING

Leuven is best known for its rich beer history: the first Stella Artois was brewed here in 1926. A lesser known fact, however, is Leuven’s focus on the future. The university is currently researching new brewing procedures whilst breweries are constantly testing innovative techniques and flavours, all building towards the city’s bright beer future, which is celebrated during the annual Leuven Beer Weekends in April.

in the best possible way. With brewery visits, beer walks, tasting sessions, culinary workshops and restaurants focusing on beer, Leuven caters for everyone.

Once home to over 30 breweries, Leuven is rightfully described as the city of beer. Although many of those breweries have since closed down, the city still has a flourishing brewery business and marks the birthplace of Stella Artois.

Aside from brewing and enjoying beer, Leuven plays a big role in beer science and finding innovative techniques and flavours. KU Leuven does extensive research into the beverage and has launched the Leuven Institute for Beer Research. Breweries themselves are involved too: De Kroon Brewery (just outside of Leuven) sees a team led by ‘Professor’ Delvaux and his son, as they research and develop yeasts that can give beer innovative tastes – think blonde beers with the taste of a dark beer.

Alongside the Artois Brewery, Leuven hosts the first home-brewery in the Benelux, Domus Brauhaus. Domus is a micro-brewery, directly connected to the tap installation in the next-door café, giving beer-lovers the chance to sample three of the freshest beers in Leuven. Throughout the year, the city offers many different opportunities to experience beer

Innovations like these are central at Leuven Innovation Beer Festival, organised by brewery Hof ten Dormaal. The first of three events forming Leuven Beer Weekends, it sees international brewers showing off their innovative beers and approaches – think new tastes, brewing processes and technologies used. The second weekend sees Food & Hops,

where gastronomy meets beer as three of Leuven’s top chefs serve their best dishes paired with exclusive craft beers. This weekend also sees a number of workshops, including how to pair beer with cheese, oysters and other appetisers. Leuven Beer Weekends concludes with Zythos Beer Festival, Belgium’s largest tasting festival, where 100 Belgian brewers come together to collectively offer 500 different beers to taste in one single location.

Photo: Jan Opdekamp

Leuven Beer Weekends take place between 13 and 28 April 2019.


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Communicate unto others... TEXT & PHOTO: STEVE FLINDERS

In France, the home of the Speaker of the National Assembly has been torched. The verbal abuse – like the death threats received by black deputies and the anti-Semitic abuse shouted at a leading philosopher in the street – now seems to be in danger of translating into physical violence. The atmosphere has been compared to the 1930s. In the UK, a handful of dissatisfied MPs have left both the Labour and Conservative parties for various stated reasons relating to Brexit and lack of leadership (both) and anti-Semitism (Labour). However the common lament of all the TIGgers – members of The Independent Group – was the rise of intolerance within both organisations and the refusal of increasing numbers of party members to hear opinions other than their own. Whether or not this degeneration of tone and decline of mutual respect in public discourse is fuelled by social media, we all need to think carefully about how we communicate and about the words we choose, publicly and privately. 72  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

Treating others with respect is hard. The Golden Rule that we should do unto others as we would have others do to us has still not really caught on, despite being expressed by every major religion over the last two or three millennia. In the workplace we could at least try to talk to others as we would have them talk to us: surely a good foundation for the communication style of any manager, and for colleagues too.

still worth applying his ideas to what we say as well. We all share responsibility for the quality and the success of communication, at work and in the social and political spheres. A general commitment to improving the quality of this would be transformative.

Another communication principle – also a tough one to respect – is to only say things about others in their absence that you would be prepared to say to their face. Of course, there are situations where this does not hold – for example, in discussions assessing candidates for jobs or promotion, but it is still a good rule of thumb. In his 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language, George Orwell – the author of Animal Farm and 1984 – argued in favour of concreteness and clarity in what we write and warned that politicians use vagueness to hide the truth. 70 years on, his essay is still worth reading, and it is

Steve Flinders is a freelance trainer, writer and coach, based in Malta, who helps people develop their leadership and communication skills for working internationally:

Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Calendar


Africa Works! 8-9 April, Rotterdam, the Netherlands In terms of international investment, Africa is uncharted territory to most companies. At the two-day event Africa Works!, however, the many perks of investing on the continent are evident. This year, the conference focuses on the future of the African cities, which are rapidly expanding. In keynotes, workshops and – most importantly – networking, intercontinental deals take shape.

Customer Engagement Summit 10 April, Zaandam, the Netherlands Creating a successful customer experience can be difficult. Especially in a rapidly-changing biotope like the internet. During the one-day Customer Engagement Summit, managers from major companies like ING and Vodafone show you how to keep your clientele satisfied and interested in an interactive and digital way.

World Retail Forum 10-12 April, Amsterdam, the Netherlands Retail happens on many scales and platforms. Annually, the World Retail Forum gathers all those different branches to learn from each other and explore the hidden possibilities of their sector. Among others, managers from Google, IKEA, McDonalds and Esprit take to the stage to share their experience and know-how with the world.

Luxembourg Data Protection Days 6-7 May, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg Since May 2018, privacy on the internet in Europe has been bound by the GDPR regulations. Exactly one year later, the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce looks back on its rocky launch and its effectiveness today. Politicians and stakeholders from the private sector will be present for this free two-day summit of critical yet stimulating discussions.

European Business Summit 6-7 May, Brussels, Belgium Politics and business should not be separate islands. Therefore, the European Business Summit gathers both groups in Brussels to liaise on Europe’s biggest challenges. Among the 178 speakers taking to the stage, big names like JeanClaude Junker and Alexander De Croo stand out. Together, they will mould tomorrow’s Europe. Issue 64  |  April 2019  |  73

Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Top Dutch Event Planning & Locations

Corporate events with an army flavour TEXT: PAULINE ZIJDENBOS  |  PHOTOS: ABC EVENTS

Have you always wanted to do a rally in army style? Be dropped behind the enemy lines with only limited information to find your way back to base? Corporate events with active team-building exercises are likely to motivate your employees to work better together. Especially if they have to dress up and take on roles they normally would not in your office environment! ABC Events has a unique, tailor-made approach to keep your team on their feet. Not only will they have to think rapidly to solve tasks together, they also need to be actively involved in order to fulfil their team assignments. Rest assured, for safety, your employees will never be left alone: there is always a trained instructor accompanying your group(s). Most corporate groups come with an aim: to improve internal communications. Therefore, prior to the team-building exercises goals are set out and these are evaluated at the end of the event, resulting in closer relationships and a better understanding 74  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

of the company’s mission or the department’s common goals. Apart from army-related exercises, which can range from rallying in army trucks against other groups or being dropped off and rescued by helicopter, ABC also offers shorter events closer to home. For example, take part in a treasure hunt by motorboat on the famous Dutch canals, sailing, paintballing, city golf or shooting. They would even be able to connect you with similar event organisers in other countries.

vehicles, with all equipment and staff members being in-house. On top of that, they have been working with numerous partners in the events industry for the past 15 years, all over the Netherlands. Therefore, they can easily supply locations, bands, catering and boats/restaurants/hotels: theme-related or not. Whatever you require, Sebastiaan Siderius and Gerard De Jong will listen carefully and offer you a personalised plan for the duration, within the budget you have available. Their originality knows no limits.

Over the years, ABC has shown it can rapidly organise last-minute event requests because they have a fleet of 40


Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Top Dutch Event Planning & Locations

Everything you need for a perfect business event TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: MARTINE GOULMY PHOTOGRAPHY

Whilst Amsterdam might be a good location to organise an event, at just a 20 minute drive away, in the midst of green landscape, event region Haarlemmermeer offers you a very interesting alternative worth exploring. Convention Bureau Event Park Amsterdam is there to help you find everything you need. Event Park Amsterdam is an initiative of event locations, hotels and suppliers in Haarlemmermeer. “In Amsterdam, it is becoming increasingly difficult to organise an event since the city is overly crowded and often expensive. Here in the Haarlemmermeer, we can offer the same services and even more at lower prices,” explains Floris Licht, chairman of Event Park Amsterdam and general manager at Novotel Amsterdam Schiphol. “There was a desire from all the partners to have one platform where event planners could go to plan their event.” With over 30 partners, including hotels, inspiring event locations and outstanding suppliers of 76  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

catering, transport, security, event management services and more, Event Park Amsterdam is the perfect place to start. “Event planners come to us with a request for their event. Our independent staff look at what the clients are looking for, send out requests to the partners that meet the specs, who then reply to us with a quote,” Licht elaborates. “We provide their proposals to the client, who then chooses which options are the best and organises the event directly with the partners.” Among these partners are the major hotel chains and inspiring event locations such as Expo Haarlemmermeer and SugarCity.

Beautiful options at six metres below sea level “Haarlemmermeer is a beautiful, green and spacious municipality with surprising event locations like the Olmenhorst estate and different recreational areas such as ‘Park21’,” continues Angela van Wijk, board member and owner of Doelen

Coach services. Haarlemmermeer was a lake that was drained between 1849 and 1852 in order to protect Amsterdam and Leiden from flooding. Now it is a municipality with 31 villages, all about six metres below sea level. “You have the best of both worlds here; vibrant towns and characteristic villages with top-notch event locations and hotels, as well as beautiful nature where your guests can relax and re-energise. With Schiphol Airport in its heart, and Amsterdam, Haarlem and Leiden around the corner, the region is the best place in the Netherlands to organise your event,” Van Wijk smiles. Great accessibility, affordability and availability are key features of the Haarlemmermeer region. Event Park Amsterdam guides you to all the partners you need to make your meeting, incentive, conference or event there an overwhelming success. Web:

Discover Benelux  |  Travel  |  Hotel of the Month in Flanders



Since its opening in October 2018, Pillows Grand Hotel Reylof has been priding itself on indulging guests with an exceptional level of hospitality. Housed in a historic 18th-century townhouse centrally located in the city of Ghent, the luxury hotel cleverly merges majestic allure with a welcoming and residential atmosphere.

Unsurpassed quality & personal attention Forget the often tiresome check-in at reception. At Pillows Grand Hotel Reylof, the special attention starts as soon as you arrive at what was once home to Baron Olivier de Reylof, affluent merchant 78  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

son and poet. Waiting at the entrance to the splendid mansion dating to 1724 and decked out in exquisite Louis XIV style, are hosts ready to receive guests and ensure their stay is off to a first-class start. No need to worry about parking your car or hauling your luggage to your room either. That is the first order of business before they guide you up the majestic spiral staircase that leads to the Living, the heart and soul of the hotel and the ultimate place to relax and feel at home. “We are very focussed on creating a personal experience and believe that service and quality are very important,” says Jaap Blijleven, director of sales and marketing. “After a drink, our hosts will walk with you

to your room and provide all information necessary or answer any questions.”

The rooms The standards have been set high at the hotel’s 157 elegant rooms and suites. Bright, airy and tastefully decorated with

Discover Benelux  |  Travel  |  Hotel of the Month in Flanders

modern furniture and soft hues that heighten a sense of tranquility, they all feature delightfully comfortable beds set with fine linens, spacious bathrooms with walk-in showers, and amenities such as a minibar and Nespresso machines. On the top floor, the sprawling Presidential Suite embraces you in the lap of luxury while you revel in a panoramic view of Ghent and the courtyard garden from the beautiful balcony. The hotel’s resplendent two-bedroom, two-bathroom gem (one of them with freestanding tub) has a dining room with a large table, a living room that boasts a fireplace, two gorgeous terraces, a private lift and a separate entrance.

A wealth of possibilities It is not just the rooms that make a stay at Pillows Grand Hotel Reylof so attractive. The food and services also reflect the hotel’s desire to pamper guests with care and refinement. After a restful night’s sleep, breakfast options include everything from grabbing a coffee and pastry to-go at the LOF Café, to enjoying a fully served breakfast without ever having to leave your seat: “Starting with coffee or tea and freshly-pressed orange juice, we will bring you your yoghurt, fruit, eggs, breads, pastries and anything else you desire right to your table,” says Blijleven. “If you choose the semi-served

breakfast, you can feast on an abundant buffet, but coffee, tea and juice will still be brought to your table,” he adds. For lunch and dinner, gourmets can tempt their palates at LOF Restaurant. The menu, which changes frequently and makes use of seasonal ingredients, is inspired by Dutch Michelin-starred chef Ron Blauw’s gastrobar concept and executed by chef Jasper Maatman. The extensive wine list features plenty of choices by the glass and a sommelier is available to help you select the perfect pairing for each dish. With its high calibre of culinary artistry and laid-back, intimate setting, it is no wonder that the restaurant is also creating a buzz among locals! If you are in the mood for a more casual bite, head to the Bistro (part of the Living) and order classics such as a Caesar salad, steak with pepper sauce or hearty, grilled beef burgers. Of course, sipping a cocktail or sampling finger foods such as oysters, no matter what the time of day, is always an option too. It is good to know that body and mind can be restored or invigorated at Spa Reylof and Gym. Situated in the former coach house, these facilities offer hightech fitness equipment, an indoor pool, saunas, therapists and a variety of relaxing treatments that will leave you feeling

totally zen. Equally interesting are the hotel’s nine salons which can be rented for all kinds of gatherings such as meetings, parties or private dinners. Pillows Grand Hotel Reylof is just a stone’s throw away from Ghent’s numerous attractions. Though the Flemish city is often overlooked, its rich history, fine restaurants, museums and vibrant atmosphere with a plethora of annual events make it well worth a visit. Web:

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Discover Benelux  |  Travel  |  Hotel of the Month in France

A family hotel in the heart of Alsace’s vineyards TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: AU RIESLING

Located in the charming French village of Zellenberg, between Riquewihr and Ribeauvillé, on the famous Alsace Wine Route, Au Riesling is a three-star Logis hotel-restaurant where guests are made to feel like part of the family. “We want everyone to feel at home here,” smiles Mélanie, whose parents Liliane and Pascal Brand bought the hotel nine years ago, and who joined the family business herself in 2013. Au Riesling boasts 36 rooms, including 23 recently renovated superior rooms with air conditioning. All offer wonderful, relaxing views and modern comforts. The hotel offers double and family rooms which can accommodate up to four people. Start your day the best possible way with the hotel’s unlimited continental breakfast buffet, which can be served in the breakfast room, on the terrace in the summertime, or in your room (for a supplement). Local delicacies such as kougelhopf and crémant sparkling wine add an extra special touch. 80  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

Meals at the restaurant are prepared by Mélanie’s father, chef Pascal, who serves up fresh, homemade dishes made using local, seasonal produce. The airconditioned, panoramic restaurant is the perfect spot from which to admire the Alsace vineyards, all while enjoying France’s famous gastronomy.

covered, ranging from the magnificent Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg to the Europa-Park theme park in Germany. The NaturOparC stork park is only one kilometre away and the nearby traditional villages of Eguisheim, Riquewihr and Kaysersberg – named France’s favourite village in 2017 – are a must.

“We have lots of traditional Alsatian specialities such as ‘choucroute’ and ‘baeckeoffe’, as well as more creative dishes for people who want to try something different, such as our foie gras burger,” reveals Mélanie.

Meanwhile, oenophiles will not want to miss the opportunity to sample and buy wine from some of the 1,000 wine growers situated along the Wine Route.

Located between Riquewihr and Ribeauvillé, Au Riesling is surrounded by stunning countryside and makes the perfect base for exploring some of the region’s most beautiful villages. Popular cities such as Colmar, Obernai and Strasbourg are also within easy reach by car, and the hotel offers free on-site parking. Whether travelling with friends, family, or enjoying a romantic break, there are countless tourist attractions to be dis-

Ready to start planning your trip today? Check the hotel website for special tariffs and offers.

The Brand family

Web: Email: Tel: + 33 3 89 47 85 85

Discover Benelux  |  Profile  |  Pâtisserie Hoffmann


The sweet smell – and taste – of success TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON  |  PHOTOS: PÂTISSERIE HOFFMANN

Luxembourgers like the finer things in life. Master pastry chef and entrepreneur Jean-Marie Hoffmann has built a very special business that aims to provide not just the fine, but the finest. In his youth, Jean-Marie Hoffmann dreamed for a time of becoming a surgeon, but decided that such a life was not for him. Given the meticulous attention to detail demonstrated in his creations, his growing business empire, and his tireless drive to improve both, it is very possible he would have made a mighty medic. The path the now 51-year-old Hoffmann chose was to become a great pastry chef, learning his craft with some prestigious names before deciding that it was time to launch his own operation. “I looked seriously at Venice Beach in California 82  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

as an option, but it wasn’t right for me or what I do.” He wondered about Dubai too, but finally saw that home was best. “Luxembourg has great gastronomic traditions, it’s an ever-more prosperous place where people are willing to pay for the best, and where they appreciate what top quality is,” says Hoffmann, “Like the French, eating well is a part of our culture, our heritage.” Thus, in 1991, he opened his first shop in Bonnevoie, making a name and setting it on the firm financial footing that enabled him to open a second, in Alzingen, in 2001. Making a name for himself included, in 1996, coming second in the pastry-chef world championships in Paris, the perfectionism that yielded that result reflected in the products in his shops – ices, sorbets, chocolates, del-

icate pastries, gâteaux… “We set the highest standards and use the best materials, including flour and fresh cream and milk from Luxembourg; but we also search the world for the topmost quality ingredients, like cinnamon from Sri Lanka, and Madagascan vanilla.”

18 Avenue de la Porte-Neuve L-2227 Luxembourg.

Discover Benelux  |  Profile  |  Pâtisserie Hoffmann

CEO Jean-Marie Hoffmann.

A grand expansion For some people, that relatively simple business would have been enough, especially as it evolved into what is very much a family concern: “My wife has been very important to the company since the start, and my daughter Kelly joined after she became a master pastry-chef. And now my son Dustin is working on the marketing side,” he says. But Hoffmann had other ideas. As 2017 ended, it was announced that his company was acquiring the 16 shops, restaurant and production premises of long-established Luxembourg rival Schumacher, investing 16 million euros into upgrading their facilities. “We changed overnight from around 30 employees to 230,” he states, “And to be able to achieve what we want to do with the business, we expect to increase that to 280 or 300 before too long.” The bakery business is known for its anti-social hours, but to integrate the two parts and oversee the new investment projects Hoffmann has gone further, actually installing a camp bed in a windowless broom cupboard next to his office in his new production facility in Wormeldange, and spending most nights there.

Fresh ideas, fresh investment, fresh products Even early on in the process, the signs were positive, sales good, and a good reaction from the workforce was evident. Because of the nature of what they produce, this is something that takes a very special approach – and Hoffmann is appreciative of production director

Michael Weyland. “The scale of the operation, with 18 shops, and many catering companies and other outlets in addition, could be seen as industrial,” Hoffmann says, “But this has to be artisanal, what we do is a craft with so much done by hand, reliant on human skill rather than machinery.” And Hoffmann has no intention of losing what has always been – and remains – the trump card of his business: “If I have a new idea, if we come up with a new product say, we can make it happen – and at the highest level of quality – within the day.” It is a philosophy that matches the nature of the business. In the restaurant, the mouth-watering menu du jour is now truly du jour, changing daily and using the best seasonal produce. The wraps, sandwiches, quiches and salads that form the savoury basis of the traiteur business are truly fresh. The chocolates beneath their glass counters in the shops are miniature works of art, the great classics occasionally joined by new creations; and it is the same too with the pastries, handmade, as enticing on the shelves as they will be later in the day on the tables of Luxembourg’s discerning diners. The whole team is working tirelessly, and it is working successfully too. And they share a vision: “Our goal is to be one of the big names in our sector, not just in Luxembourg but beyond too,” Hoffmann concludes. Web:

Issue 64  |  April 2019  |  83

Photo: Pexels

Out & About Although Lent is the time to get by with less, the Benelux is not cutting back on exciting activities this month. April is full of cultural festivals, athletic endeavours and colourful flowers. And do not forget to rehydrate every now and then – nothing complements a sunny spring day like a glass of Belgium’s liquid gold. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS Antwerp 10 Miles. Photo: Tom Cornille

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Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar

Leuven Innovation Beer Festival. Photo: Leva

Tulip Festival 1 – 30 April, Amsterdam, the Netherlands Nothing screams ‘Dutch’ like a bed of colourful tulips. All of April, these cheerful flowers take over the centre of Amsterdam. Spread over more than 85 locations in the city, 850,000 tulips will pop up all over the place, one for every citizen of the capital. Let the flowers guide you to the city’s most remarkable hotspots and hidden gems.

The world of Bruegel 6 April – 20 October, Bokrijk, Belgium Nobody captured the life of Flanders’ everyday man in such detail as Pieter Bruegel the Elder did. His masterpieces like Children’s Games and Netherlandish Proverbs almost feel like a ‘Where’s Wally?’ of Flemish folklore. For the 450th anniversary of the master’s death, open-air museum Bokrijk brings his work to life through games, theatre and a fascinating stroll through the 16th century.

National Museum Week 8 – 14 April, the Netherlands During the Dutch National Museum Week, 413 cultural temples in all parts of the country put their most impressive showpiece on a pedestal for the crowd to see. Furthermore, many exciting cultural activities will spruce up

the museum visits of both young and old art lovers. Traditionally, the week will kick off with the revelation of a big, golden replica of one of the featured masterpieces. This year, the space suit from Space Expo has earned that privilege.

Art Brussels. Photo: David Plas

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Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar

Children’s Games, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1560, Courtesy of Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Flower parade 13 April, Haarlem, the Netherlands The Dutch love flowers. It may therefore not come as a surprise that carnivalesque flower parades are highly popular in their country. While almost all of them take place in autumn, the colourful festival of the Bollenstreek fills the streets with redolent floats in April. This year, the central theme is ‘changing world’, allowing us a peek into the future as well as back into the past.

Art Brussels. Photo: David Plas

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Beerweekends 13 – 28 April, Leuven, Belgium Leuven is Belgium’s capital of beer. For three consecutive weekends, the city approaches the legendary drink from three different angles. During the first weekend, you can meet the most futuristic brewers in the business at the Leuven Innovation Beer Festival. One week later, beer pairing is the centre of attention at Food & Hops. Then, you can enjoy a final, ul-

timate tasting of these Belgian treasures during Zythos: a traditional Belgian beer tasting festival.

Emaischen 22 April, Luxembourg City & Nospelt, Luxembourg Hunting for chocolate eggs and gathering with all your family: Easter knows so many adorable traditions. Yet, in Luxembourg, they have the cutest of them all. On Easter Monday, the traditional festival of Emaischen breaks loose

Flower Parade. Photo: NBTC

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar

Museum Week. Photo: J. Lousberg

in the small village of Nospelt as well as in the country’s capital. Besides participating in one of the many activities in the streets, you can buy yourself a cute little bird whistle (or peckvillercher) at the market. These colourful, ceramic toys are handmade by local potters to fill the festival with chipper melodies.

Tulip Festival. Photo: NBTC

Antwerp 10 Miles 28 April, Antwerp, Belgium The Antwerp 10 Miles must be Belgium’s cosiest run. While the enormous crowd along the roads gives out cheers of enthusiasm, thousands of trained athletes and recreational jog-

gers conquer the long run of – you might have guessed it – ten miles through Antwerp. Along the way, you pass the city’s foremost touristic hotspots like the iconic MAS museum and the majestic museum for fine arts.

Art Brussels 25 – 28 April, Brussels, Belgium With over 50 years of history, Art Brussels is one of Europe’s leading art fairs. It is the perfect gathering to discover and rediscover fascinating artists and invest in your next piece of art. While strolling through the lanes of culture, you will be in good company. The world’s most renowned gallery owners, collectors and museum directors come to this fair for their annual shopping spree.

King’s Day 27 April, Amersfoort, the Netherlands In the monarchy-loving Netherlands, the birthday of King Willem-Alexander is the biggest event of the year. The whole nation revels in the colour orange, and pictures of the monarch adorn a myriad of merchandising. Traditionally, the King and his family choose another city to celebrate King’s Day every year. This year, the city of Amersfoort is preparing itself for this massive event with concerts, a parade and activities galore.

King’s Day. Photo: NBTC

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Discover Benelux  |  xxx  |  xxx


Do you fancy a hot cup of chicory? Or do you prefer chewing on a nice tulip bulb? These ingredients might seem weird today, yet, once, they played a key role on many a menu. Until January next year, the Holland Open Air Museum focuses on the history of our eating habits: because what we crave for today, might just have disgusted people in the days of yore. There is no accounting for taste. One person’s favourite dish can be another’s culinary nightmare. Nonetheless, all of these, seemingly, personal preferences are to a large extent determined by the era we live in. Until next January, the Holland Open Air Museum zooms in on our ever-changing eating habits during its themed exhibition year Gruwelijk Lekker (Horribly tasty). “Our 88  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019

choice of diet throughout the centuries is determined by many factors,” says Carola van der Woude, head of marketing and communication at the Holland Open Air Museum. “Not just by our changing preferences, but also by the availability of certain products at that specific time and by our ethical and cultural values. Today, we add mushrooms to almost every dish. Yet, for the lion’s share of human history, fungi were associated with death and sorcery and, hence, off-limits for consumption.”

Dog meat Alongside mushrooms, the Holland Open Air Museum features nine other products and dishes which represent as many eras of the low country’s history. In the museum park, as well as in a temporary exhibition, the fascinating story of these ten pioneer

plates gets served. “One of the more remarkable things on the menu dates back to the Iron Age. Around 5,000 Before Christ, the first tribes settled down and became farmers. They kept cattle to work the land and to eat. Besides sheep, goats, cows and pigs, dogs were popular barnyard animals at the time. And although it wasn’t very common to eat these last ones, they surely did end up on a plate in times of famine and scarcity.” This might sound weird to us now, yet, in many Asian coun-

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Nederlands Openluchtmuseum

tries, golden retrievers and chihuahuas still adorn lots of restaurant menus. And even in our neck of the woods, many ate their loyal canine during the Second World War, when food was scarce. During the infamous Dutch famine of 1944 and 1945, other peculiar things were eaten for dinner as well. “They looked for so-called surrogates: available products that could replace the ingredients that were no longer affordable. Instead of coffee, they drank chicory and, instead of potatoes, they ate tulip bulbs. Those had far from the same taste, but at least they filled those hungry stomachs. In the Holland Open Air Museum, those who dare can even try one of these eatable bulbs themselves.”

‘Garlic eater’ Although most of the delicacies featured during Gruwelijk Lekker seem a bit foreign – or even plain disgusting – to us now, some products we eat today were considered gruesome by our ancestors as well. “Garlic is a great example of that. In 2019, you can’t find a kitchen without it, yet, when the first migrant stream arrived in the Netherlands, the strong scent and

spicy taste of garlic couldn’t count on that much enthusiasm. The white bulb even became a symbol for all the negative effects of immigration, resulting in popular insults like ‘garlic eater’.” Clearly, the way we experience food evolves with time. Asked whether our taste levels are better today than they were throughout the last centuries, Van der Woude has difficulties giving a clear answer. “We are definitely more aware of what we eat today. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we eat better. If you look closely at the development of our diet, you see that it doesn’t go in a straight direction. Most products come, go and come again. It is not a linear evolution but rather a repetitive wave motion. So, do we eat better than we used to do? Let’s talk again in 100 years and I will give you an answer to that question.” Discover Gruwelijk Lekker at the Holland Open Air Museum until the end of January 2020.


The Holland Open Air Museum At the Nederlands Openluchmuseum, you can wander through the entire history of the Netherlands. For 101 years already, the museum has collected the nicest historic buildings and objects from the country in its enormous walking park. Peek behind the walls of the mill, the village, the estate and many other amazing houses and meet its colourful inhabitants, who are ready to tell you all about their lives and eras. In the permanent, interactive exhibition The canon of Dutch history, the entire history of the country is summarised in 50 extraordinary people, moments and evolutions.

Issue 64  |  April 2019  |  89

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Noord-Veluws Museum

Arthur Briët, the Rembrandt of the Veluwe TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: NOORD-VELUWS MUSEUM

Up until 29 September, the Noord-Veluws Museum shall be pointing its spotlights on its local master, Arthur Briët. While born in Java, his life path took him through Belgium, Italy and France, before he settled amid the inspiring sceneries of the Veluwe. During the late 19th-century, the picturesque village of Nunspeet became a colony for artists looking for new inspiration. The village welcomed over 200 creative wanderers. Among them, was painter Arthur Briët. “Briët was the most gifted of them all,” says Margot Jongedijk, curator of the Noord-Veluws Museum. “He made portraits, landscapes, interiors… and excelled in all those disciplines.” Since he often used clair-obscur and mixed naturalistic brushstrokes with impressionistic ones, some call him ‘the Rembrandt of the Veluwe’. “When visitors see his work in our museum, they often tell us that the similarity with Rembrandt’s work is uncanny.”

In Nunspeet, the painter fell in love with the small and simple working class homes. As an expert in painting interior settings, these humble one-room homes became the scene of many a canvas. “This fascination was purely aesthetic, rather than being about social engagement. Frankly, he did not even like to go to these houses since the residents tended to move around furniture and objects, disturbing his work. Therefore, he built one of these tiny buildings in his own yard, allowing him to work in perfect circumstances.” Although Briët’s

name is not widely known, his art and life are both captivating. “The Noord-Veluws Museum is the ideal place to discover the rich past of the artists’ village of Nunspeet.”

LEFT: Meisje met geit in graanveld, Arthur Briët, oil on canvas, collection Westfries Museum. RIGHT: Interieur van de schildershut van de kunstenaar in Nunspeet, Arthur Briët, oil on canvas, collection Noord Veluws Museum


Discover Benelux  |  xxx  |  xxx


While talking about gastronomy in the Benelux, products like Belgian chocolate or Dutch cheese immediately come to mind. Yet, to experience Benelux cuisine in all its glory, you must try its many local dishes. Most of them have been around for centuries but are still unadulterated crowd pleasers on many a dinner table. Taste the rich history of the region in one of its exquisite restaurants or take the chance and cook a Benelux delicacy yourself.

Hutspot In all corners of the low countries, you will find similar dishes of mashed potatoes and vegetables with a myriad of different names. In Belgium, they talk about stoemp or stamppot and, in the Netherlands, it is called hutspot. Regardless of what you call it, the mash usually consists of potatoes, carrots and onions. Nonetheless, variations with kale, endives, Brussels sprouts and many other vegetables are common as well. The exact origins of the dish are unknown, yet, a kind of hutspot was already eaten in the Netherlands during the 15th century. That was without potatoes and carrots, of course, since they only reached Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries. Instead, they added parsnips, plums and, if they had to, even cats and dogs back then.


Photo: NBTC

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Where soup is just a light starter in most countries, the Dutch have elevated it to a potential main course. If you order yourself a plate of snert, you will be served a soup of green peas which is about thick enough to stand a spoon in. To make it even heavier, big chunks of rookworst float through the green brew while a piece of rye bread is served on the side. Afterwards, it is traditional to also eat a pancake. The oldest recipe for snert dates back to the 16th century, but the dish remains very popular today, especially in winter. In the city of Groningen, you can even compete in the annual Snert Cooking World Cup.

Discover Benelux  |  Feature  |  Gourmet Guide

Endives in the oven The Belgian endives as we know them today were invented about 150 years ago when a farmer planted his chicory in the dark, humid basement of Brussels’ botanic garden. To his surprise, this kept the vegetable white and crunchy. Today, the white crop is the second-most popular vegetable in Belgium, with an average consumption of seven kilogrammes of it per year per person. Although it can be very tasty in a salad as well, most people prepare them in the oven with a silky cheese sauce and wrapped in ham. This softens up its slightly bitter flavour and makes them popular among children too.

Hete bliksem


Hete bliksem (or: hot lightning) is an oven dish with mashed potatoes, onions and sweet and sour apples. Since the dish is very moist, it stays hot for a long time (hence its name). The dish saw the light of day during the Second World War when the Netherlands was plagued by famine and scarcity. The rare products that were available every so often were typical Dutch things like potatoes, onions and apples. Today, most people spruce up their hete bliksem with a crunchy blood sausage on the side.

Tomate-crevettes When on a trip to the North Sea coast, you have to eat its delicious brown shrimps. In Belgian coastal towns, they master the art of preparing them to perfection, resulting in finger-licking good shrimp croquettes. Even more traditional than these fried delicacies is the tomate-crevettes: a hollowed-out tomato stuffed with shrimps and mayonnaise. With just three ingredients, the dish is ingenious in its simplicity. Yet, as the Belgian tradition dictates, some crispy fries must be served on the side.

Waterzooi Since the Middle Ages, the citizens of Ghent have loved their Waterzooi. This soup is made of vegetables, potatoes, cream, and chicken and is eaten with bread. In the early days, however, the dish was prepared with fish instead, which they caught in the city’s river. Throughout the years, fish became scarce because of the increasing pollution of the town’s waters, forcing them to switch to chicken. According to legend, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V would have been addicted to Waterzooi. He never spent a day in Ghent without eating it.

Flemish stew No dish awakens Belgian patriotism as much as Flemish stew, or stoofvlees, does. By letting the chewiest part of the beef simmer in dark beer for hours, it becomes very soft and flavourful. Since over 1,000 different beers are brewed in Belgium, you have plenty of choice to experiment with. When the stew is almost cooked, you spread a thick layer of mustard on a piece of whole-wheat bread and add it to the meat. This will thicken the sauce and adds an extra bit of spice to it as well. If you prefer your stew a little sweeter, you can add gingerbread instead. Then, serve some fries and mayonnaise on the side, open a cold beer and let the feast begin. Issue 64  |  April 2019  |  93

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Columns



If you like paintings, then get yourself to Amsterdam, pronto! Some of Europe’s hottest exhibitions are currently on show, catering to all tastes. If, for example, you prefer the older stuff, head to the Rijksmuseum to see The Year of Rembrandt. If you like the bold and colourful, swing by Hockney – Van Gogh at the Van Gogh Museum. But if you want to impress your mates with your cool cultural choices, then go and see Ways of Being by Maria Lassnig at the Stedelijk. Despite being one of the greats of the 20th century, Lassnig is bafflingly still somewhat under-acknowledged for the significant part she played in art history. She walked in the footsteps of the Germanic expressionists, adopting a similar painterly approach and thick handling of paint, but her canvases are laced with more

self-deprecation than her humour-shy predecessors. She was an integral part of the avant-garde feminist movement of the ‘70s, and was the first female professor of painting at the prestigious Academy of Applied Arts in Vienna. Ways of Being is a rare opportunity to see over 200 works, including paintings, films and sculptures that archive Lassnig’s intense dedication to making art, and her experience of the world. The show is set to be a riot of emotion; funny, dark, beautiful and bleak all at once – much like the world she was depicting. Ways of Being is on view at Stedelijk Museum from 6 April to 11 August 2019. Matt Antoniak is a visual artist and writer living and working in Newcastle, UK. He works mainly in painting and drawing and is a founding member of the art collective M I L K.

Maria Lassnig, Dame mit Hirn (Lady with Brain), c.1990 © Maria Lassnig Foundation


Fleur Sauvage Fleur Sauvage is a barrel-aged Imperial Pale Ale produced at a brewery based in Baarle-Hertog, an enclave of Belgium, south-east of the Dutch city of Breda. This complex, aromatic beer is likely to appeal to beer aficionados looking for something out of the ordinary. The name of the beer translates to ‘wild flower’ and, in common with many spring blooms, the aroma of this brew is worth lingering over. A scent of orange peel dominates the fruity nose. There is an underlying spiciness plus a hint of hops and yeast. The colour of the beer is an opaque amber and, even when poured carefully, it froths into a fluffy head. As you might expect from any beer that has spent 13 months in a barrel, Fleur Sauvage is complex. The brewers have taken their Belle Fleur IPA as the basis of this bold creation. Its mouthfeel is dry; this is a beer that tingles on the tongue thanks to its subtle effervescence. 94  |  Issue 64  |  April 2019


The flavour seems to change from an initial tartness, through a dry floral hoppiness before revealing an underlying sweetness as it rolls across the tongue. It leaves a pleasantly floral taste. The intensity and complexity may be too much for casual beer drinkers: this is one of those beers that elicits raised eyebrows of surprise before nods of approval. Each mouthful reveals more depth of flavour, so this really is a beer to savour rather than to pair with food. Fans of traditional IPAs may find this is too much like a sour. The multifaceted character of Fleur Sauvage ensures it is a beer to remember. Brewer: De Dochter van de Korenaar Alcohol content: 6.0 per cent Stuart Forster was named Journalist of the Year at the 2015, 2016 and 2019 Holland Press Awards. Five generations of his family have been actively involved in the brewing industry.

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